Review: “Looking for Alibrandi”

This new Aussie film is made to appeal directly to young teenage girls, and in that demographic this is a 4-star effort. The characters are rich and engaging, the storylines thought-provoking yet nice enough to be generally appealing. The humour is a little off the wall but is good, while the drama really works effectively.

Pia Miranda has the star-making title role and really shows an amazing display of talent. She’s one of these girls who has that kind of energy and spark that when she’s happy you think she’ll explode, and when she’s down you can’t help but feel devastated too. Miranda has gone all out and made the role her own – and done an amazing job at it.

The rest of the cast are all top notch, not a weak link among them. The two standouts though would have to be Elena Cotta as Josie’s traditionally valued Italian grandmother and Matthew Newton as the prim & proper school prefect Josie longs for.

Both characters have darker secret sides which the actors work to their full extent and Director Kate Woods knows how to explore – there are scenes of them just sitting or quietly walking off into the distance which speak volumes about their characters – how many films can you remember with that much depth. There’s also one powerful emotional scene on a bus (may have been a train) which really hits hard and is just so sad you have to be an extremely strong willed person not to get watery-eyed over.

Helping spread it out are various other storylines such as Josie’s re-establishing her relationship with her father which is good, but a little run of the mill at times. There’s also her slowly-revealed attraction to the rebellious Jacob (Kick Curry) which works but can’t help but feel less intense than her storyline with John (Newton). The chemistry between Miranda and Schacchi though provides one of the best mother-daughter relationships seen on screen in sometime.

This is a great mainstream coming of age drama which will sadly be limited by the appeal of its subject matter simply because it is a relatively relaxed paced drama aimed at young girls. They’ll flock to see it, but guys shouldn’t be deterred either – this is a real nice little film which you definitely should check out and will remember fondly – whether your male or female.