Tribeca Film Festival 2021: Italian Studies (2021) – Film Review

Vanessa Kirby suffers an Empire State of Mind Blank in Italian Studies at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

A writer loses her memory. Adrift in NYC, she connects with a group of teenagers – in conversations both real and imagined – and searches for a way home.

Writer’s always make for unreliable narrators. They are in charge of the story they are telling and the audience are at their mercy. Kirby’s character seems to be suffering from temporary amnesia but is it a medical condition or an elaborate ruse? An manipulative exercise to provide inspiration and material for a new book.There is a scene where a character tells her about a friend who used to wander around pretending not to know who she was. Later once she discovers she is a writer, she reads the novel she has written which plays out scenes already featured with Maya Hawke as the main character.

Vanessa Kirby showcased in Pieces Of A Woman that she is able to do so much without words. Her face can appear as blank as her memory but still utterly captivating. It draws the viewer in. Capable of shutting out the overwhelming cacophony of the neon-soaked streets to focus solely on her.

Adam Leon’s film feels like an exercise rather than a fully formed piece of storytelling. It feels experimental. Fuelled by improvisation with Kirby and the young actors sparking off each other based on the thinnest of outlines. Like an amnesiac, it is not sure who it is or where it is going and the novelty quickly wears off. The momentum only sustained by Brett Jutkiewicz’s cinematography and Nicholas Britell’s score.

The film’s runtime is just 81 minutes however every New York Minute feels like a hour stuck in rush hour traffic on the way to JFK. New York is the city that never sleeps but Italian Studies might prove the exception to the rule.


Director: Adam Leon
Stars: Vanessa Kirby, Maya Hawke, Fred Hechinger, David Ajala
Runtime: 81 minutes
Country: USA

Adam LeonamnesiaItalian StudiesMemoryNew YorkNYCtribecaTribeca 2021Tribeca Film FestivalVanessa Kirby
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