I was begging with every fibre of my being for Adriatico My Love to end every second I was watching it. Not only is it an awful movie in every conceivable way from top to bottom, but it also continues the trend of incredibly cut rate and annoying Toronto made productions inexplicably getting local releases for no discernable reason except to trick really stupid people into watching them. It also continues in the trend of last weeks atrocious and also Toronto based, Italian-set production Fondi ’91 as making a beautiful place look like the setting for one of the worst films of the year. I am through being kind, and I beg, plead, and implore audiences to keep ignoring these kinds of movies until local bookers get the clue that not everyone with a chequebook and Telefilm backing deserves a theatrical release.
My righteous anger at this point knows absolutely no bounds. There isn’t a single second, moment, shot, performance, or line of dialogue within Nikola Curcin’s idiotic, slipshod, useless, and pointless film that can be see as approximating anything close to an artistic triumph. Looking as awful as if it were shot with a circa 1998 camcorder and seemingly edited by Homer Simpson (complete with honest-to-God SWOOSH WIPES), this production that doesn’t have an IMDB page (EDIT: It does now after its release has ended) and has seemingly gathered dust since 2011 tells the “story” of Gail (Valerie Buhagiar). I say “story” because there isn’t much of one. It’s more like a random assemblage of character moments.
Gail is the host of a joke of a cable cooking show that sends her to places around the world to chronicle different methods of food preparation. She’s on the verge of getting canned when her big olive oil sponsor pulls out, and as a last ditch Hail Mary moment she decides to head back to her hometown on the Adriatic to try and get back to her roots. She also browbeats her twentysomething daughter Lucy (Dorian Kolinas) into tagging along as cameraman, and to also tell her that her dad isn’t her real father and that she’s the result of a one night stand when she was 17 with a townie. Surprise!
Buhagiar isn’t much of an actress, sort of fumbling around and delivering a lot of her lines in a confused monotone even when her character isn’t actually hosting the cooking show. Kolinas seems to genuinely be trying, but it’s hard to tell when the material is this botched and poorly assembled. Either way, regardless of their efforts, they are inarguably the best things about the film and if that’s the faintest praise possible, then so be it. Regular readers know that when I’m angry about something I tend to save the positives for the end. This time I decided to switch it up.
To say Curcin’s film is rough around the edges would be generous. Every aspect of his filmmaking and screenwriting abilities are rough to the extreme of utter risibility. His screenplay allows for no wiggle room where the actors can actually create characters out of his stilted and laughably lamebrained dialogue (“Better be careful with that olive oil. You might get pregnant.”). Gail is an unlovable and bumbling boor without a single funny thing to say or do, and Lucy is barely a sketch of a human being until the third act and the character has to be drunk to even spill the beans then. Nothing is ever a surprise and it all leads to as contrived and ludicrously unearned of a happy ending possible.
Scenes begin and end out of nowhere, often just so they can lead into more B-roll footage of artfully crumbling villas and seaports. An early moment when Alex is about to spill the beans about Lucy’s father immediately leads to the daughter exclaiming “Oh! Look at the water!” Following some B-roll, they promptly go back their room and Lucy passes out, mimicking exactly what I wish I could have done. Then later on, after learning of an important development, a local with eyes for Alex takes a shot of liquor, says “This is not important. Let’s go.” before smash cutting to Lucy swimming apropos of absolutely nothing.
I compared Curcin’s work to other shoddy local productions, but to give some kind of frame of reference to any non-locals who stumble upon this. There’s no difference between Curcin’s film and the crass laziness of something like Grown Ups. It’s a film crafted solely so people can take vacations, shoot some great footage of pretty things, and generally not challenge themselves at all whatsoever. It’s all about montages of great looking scenery, questionably good looking people, and never once stressing about telling any kind of meaningful story. Who needs that when you can just randomly talk about how awesome it is to have cheese, grapes, and olive oil in bed?
I want to stop covering local films after something like this. I was so angry I wanted to throw my computer out the window after viewing it. I’ve simply had enough. And yet, no one covers these films, and some of them turn out to be good or in other cases really great. Recently I covered The Conspiracy, a really clever locally made thriller. I covered the home entertainment release of the little seen gem No Heart Feelings. Things like that keep me going. Films like Adriatico My Love need to go away. It seems like every week someone is trying to pull a fast one by releasing these things into theatres. People should not have to unsuspectingly pay to see this. People shouldn’t even waste bandwidth to catch this on-demand. And if these films are mere tax write offs for the people who made them, stop making movies and just give your apparently wasted income to charity. You’ll feel better about yourself and you wouldn’t have wasted my fucking time.