Projections - Movie Reviews

Ciao America

Ciao America

Producer Roger Marion, director Frank Ciota and his brother, writer Joseph A. Ciota showcase Ciao America which aims to achieve a love for cinema, sports, and a strong sense for one's lineage.  Filmed on location in Italy this low budget feature touches on romance and family heritage with a backdrop of football.  The mix seems like an Italian version of The Replacements but rarely connects with the conviction felt by a smiling young boy running with a football as his grandpa watches.

The bookend slow-motion scenes underline a link of contemporary Italy to the past of one Lorenzo Primavera, now just graduated from a Boston university with a political science degree but needing to learn about himself.  And the script allows Lorenzo, acted by the boyish Eddie Malavarca ("Oz") to learn what his homeland means to him.

The elemental storyline of this somewhat naive young American going with his grandfather's suitcase to coach Italian football (not soccer), has its originality in the location of a fledgling league.  But everything else from plotting to characters has a quality role to it and Ciao America, spoken as a greeting by a few in Ferrata, works mainly as a travelogue.

Lorenzo sees a ragtag bunch who don't appear to be suited for the kind of football seen in America.  The new Italian team is his responsibility, just for a couple of days until a replacement, arrives to take on the difficult task.

In order to add more intimacy, the Ciota brothers have Lorenzo drawn to a music student, Paola Angelini, the lovely Violante Placido.  A glimpse of her in a car or in a misty, hot dance club reveals her to be seraphic presence, a kind of beacon for him.

Some goofiness happens on the gridiron with not a lot of cheering, rowdy folks in the seats as Ciao America shares an uncommitted attitude that reflects Lorenzo's professional and personal goals.  But Paola's idea of football leads to the awkward up beat conclusion in an ornate sandy Coliseum to show what truly makes the world go around.

Besides the luminous Placido, Maurizio Nichetti reminds one of a younger Armand Assante as the team's quarterback.  As the replacement coach Skip Cromwell, Nathaniel Marston imputes frustration and energy into the proceedings.  And Ciao America has the veteran backing, in lesser though important roles, Giancarlo Giannini (Hannibal) as Lorenzo's grandmother's brother and Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas) as his father more interested in a son becoming a lawyer rather than remaining in Italy.

The Ciotas have collaborated to create an international experience from the warm cinematography and score by Andrea Morricone, but Ciao America doesn't memorably depict the generational strain between two cultures as well as My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Ciao America

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