Directed by Luca Guadagnino and screenplay by Michael Mitnick in collaboration with Pier Paolo Piccioli of Valentino, The Staggering Girl is a 37-minute short film made in collaboration with Valentino in showcasing their new fashion line through a story involving women and their encounters with fashion. Starring Julianne Moore, Marthe Keller, Mia Goth, KiKi Layne, Alba Rohrwacher, and Kyle MacLachlan. The Staggering Girl is a gorgeous and somber short film from Luca Guadagnino.
While the film is mainly an advertisement of sorts for Valentino’s haute couture line led by its current leader Pier Paolo Piccioli, the film does feature a narrative about a woman dealing with her ailing mother as she travels to Rome to be with her as they also think about the past. It is a film that doesn’t have much of a plot yet it does play into women thinking about their work but also a woman dealing with blindness as she is convinced her days as an artist is over. Yet, there are all of these mysterious things that occurs in the film along with flashbacks of the young woman with her daughter and other friends while they’re tended to a man throughout the film.
Luca Guadagnino’s direction is stylish as it is shot on locations in New York City and Rome as it play into these two worlds that its main characters live in. While there are some unique wide and medium shots, Guadagnino does play into this air of intrigue but also isolation that looms throughout the film while the flashbacks are lively in the scenes set in Rome. There is a sense of simplicity for the scenes in New York as well as the moments between mother and daughter in the present scenes in Rome while there are moments that are surreal. Notably as there’s a woman walking around in Valentino designer clothing as the clothes do play a key role in the story leading to its climax. Overall, Guadagnino crafts a rapturous and compelling film about a writer and her ailing artist mother thinking about their art and the next stage of their lives.
Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on low-key natural lighting for many of the daytime interior scenes as well as the usage of little lighting for some of the exterior scenes in the evening scenes. Editor Walter Fasano does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few montage cuts in some bits of the film. Production designers Roberta Federico and Olivia Peebles do amazing work with the look of the homes of the woman in New York as well as a place she goes to for a party as well as the home of her mother in Rome. Visual effects supervisor Luca Saviotti does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects that play into some of the mystical elements of the film. Sound mixer Valentino Gianni does superb work with the sound as it is largely straightforward to play into the way everything sounds in a room. The film’s music by Ryuichi Sakamoto is wonderful for its low-key, piano-based orchestral score that help play into the drama as well as the sense of longing throughout the film while the soundtrack include a couple of pieces by Bruno Lauzi.
The casting by Francine Maisler is marvelous as it feature appearances from Sergio Di Nitto as an old boyfriend from the past, Arianna Pesce and Camilla Martellino in their respective versions as the young and teenage version of the protagonist Francesca, Edoardo Gabbriellini as a party host in Patrizio, Alba Rohrwacher as a friend of Francesca in Vera, and Mia Goth as a younger version of Francesca’s mother Sofia. KiKi Layne is excellent in her small role as a mysterious woman Francesca sees as is she a ghost or her neighbor in New York who is dealing with issues of her own. Kyle MacLachlan is brilliant in a trio of roles as a party guest, an old lover of Sofia, and Sofia’s caretaker where MacLachlan brings a lot of different personalities and sensitivity to those roles. Marthe Keller is amazing as the old Sofia as an artist who is going blind as she deals with aging but also isolation and the past as she looks back with sadness. Finally, there’s Julianne Moore in an incredible performance as Francesca as a writer who deals with her own struggles and loneliness where she goes to Rome to help her mother as well as aspects of her own past.
The Staggering Girl is a remarkable film from Luca Guadagnino. Featuring a great cast, amazing costumes, dazzling visuals, and a somber music score by Ryuichi Sakamoto. The short is a fascinating way in how to sell fashion design as well as tell a story about two women dealing with loneliness and creative drought. In the end, The Staggering Girl is a marvelous film from Luca Guadagnino.
Luca Guadagnino Films: (The Protagonists) - (Tilda Swinton: The Love Factory) - (Mundo civilzado) - (Cuoco contadino) - (Melissa P.) - (The Love Factory No. 3 Pippo Delbono - Bisogna morire) – I Am Love - (Bertolucci on Bertolucci) – A Bigger Splash - Call Me By Your Name - Suspiria (2018 film) - (Fiori, Fiori, Fiori) – (Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams) – (We Are Who We Are (2020 TV series)) – Bones & All – (Challengers (2023 film))
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