Autumn is just the perfect time to curl up on the sofa and watch a good movie.
If during summer months I am barely at home, trying to be outside as much as I can, in autumn things change quite a bit.
I usually have dinner quite early at night – most of the time at 7 pm, which is pretty early for Italian standards – and then I sit on the sofa with my dog and a comfy blanket, ready for a wild night either with a book or with Netflix.
Therefore, if in summer I almost never turn my TV on, I use autumn and winter to catch up with all the latest TV series and movies. So, if you are a homebody like me and are interested in Italian movies as well, this might be the perfect time to catch up with some of the most recent ones.
And this is why I decided to compile a list of some of the best recent Italian movies for you to watch.
I have to admit that the list mostly reflects my personal tastes, but I also included some very popular – and critically acclaimed as well – movies, in order to give you a wider range of choices. I tried to include a variety of genres so that if you don’t like a specific kind of movie, you’ll surely find something else which suits your tastes.
Moreover, I selected movies that have been released in the last couple of years – with some exceptions dating back to 2013 – because I specifically want to give you an overview of recent Italian cinema, since I am sure you are pretty familiar with the classics. There’ll be more posts of this kind in the future though because I have some other movie selections in mind.
But let’s dive into this list of some of the best recent Italian movies now!
Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot
When it came out last year, this movie became incredibly popular in a very short time. It had huge success in movie theatres and had quite a number of positive reviews by movie critics as well. Why was that? Because it was the first Italian movie about a superhero.
You know, Italian movies are mainly low budget and usually either dramas or comedies, there aren’t many action movies around, so it was a nice surprise. But actually what makes this movie special is that it is about a superhero, of course, but an Italian-style one, with its flaws and weaknesses.
The movie tells the story of a small street criminal, Enzo Ceccotti, who jumps in the very polluted river Tevere to escape from the police and a few days after he discovers to have acquired extraordinary powers. He first uses these powers for himself, then – thanks to Alessia, a naive girl who falls in love with him – he uses them to help the others.
I personally really loved the movie, which has its own way of depicting contemporary Italy while keeping you glued to the screen.
Speaking of contemporary Italy, this is one of the bleakest representations of my country I have seen lately.
This movie is quite a punch in the stomach, let me tell you. Debauchery and depravity are always present in the movie and you can’t relax: when you think you’ve seen the worst, there’s something more to shock you. I had quite a hard time watching it, especially because I was aware of the fact that it is not so different from a certain reality.
The greatness of the movie is due to the actors as well, so great at portraying horrible characters. The story is basically that of a gangster, called Samurai, who wants to transform Ostia – a small city by the sea near Rome – in a Las Vegas of some sort. This project involves other gangsters, politicians, pimps, party planners – even the church – and will eventually cause a series of events where all the characters show their worst.
Superb movie, which has now been made into a Netflix TV series too.
Smetto quando voglio
Let’s move to something definitely lighter. Smetto quando voglio is one of the funniest movies I have seen in the last years.
I have to say that I am not that much into comedies, but this one was incredibly brilliant and entertaining. It’s one of those movies that make you laugh a lot but still give you the opportunity of using your brain and reflecting on life – if you see what I mean.
The story is that of Pietro Zinni, a university researcher who is fired due to financial cuts. Then, in order to make a living, he recruits some other fellow graduates who, despite their skills and titles, are barely making ends meet: they decide to produce and sell drugs using their knowledge of chemistry. Obviously, they are not criminals and, despite being very successful with such business, end up having a lot of problems.
The movie was so successful that a sequel has already been made. It’s Smetto quando voglio – Masterclass and I have been told it’s even better than the first one. I can’t wait to see it!*
La mafia uccide solo d’estate
This one, instead, is one of those movies that focus on a very serious topic – la mafia, in this case – but deal with it with a light approach and a sort of bittersweet mockery – a bit like Roberto Benigni did in La vita è bella, when speaking of the Holocaust.
As a matter of fact, the director of the movie, a comedian known as Pif but whose real name is Pierfrancesco Diliberto, has been able to create a movie which can be incredibly funny at times and really heartbreaking at others.
Obviously inspired by real events, the movie is basically about 20 years of mafia in Sicily.
Everything is seen through the eyes of Arturo, a young boy who lives in Palermo and is in love with Flora. We see him growing up on the troubled streets of the city and the terrible events that take place there are seen through his eyes, turning them into some sort of parody. The genius of Pif lies in the fact that it makes you laugh about horrible things and at the same time reflect on a very dark side of Italian history.
Io viaggio da sola
Here comes a movie that doesn’t want to describe or inform about Italian society, it simply tells a very interesting story.
The main character is Irene, who works as a mystery inspector in charge of checking the quality of service of luxury hotels. This kind of job makes her travel a lot and she has no opportunity to start a family or simply settle in a certain place. Her only family is made of an old friend, Andrea, and of her sister Silvia, who dreams of seeing her settled sooner or later.
She seems genuinely happy with her life but then some people she meets and some events make her doubt about the choice of life she made. She starts questioning herself about being a single woman and being alone and therefore takes a big decision about her life.
What I loved about this movie is the ending, which is not predictable, and its ability to discuss themes like being lonely and being able to accept such loneliness in a very tactful and sensitive way.
La pazza gioia
I have to admit I haven’t seen this movie, but I decided to include it on this list because a lot of people recommended it to me and I told me I should absolutely watch it.
It also had great reviews and won many awards and it’s by Paolo Virzì, one of my favorite Italian movie directors (I have written a post about him and his movies a few months ago), so I thought I could add it to this list without risk of giving you a bad recommendation.
The movie is about Donatella and Beatrice, two ladies who live in a psychiatric facility in Tuscany.
They are quite different types and have had pretty different life experiences, but they eventually become friends. Then an opportunity to escape from the facility brings them together in an adventure that will change their lives forever.
Here’s another movie that has nothing specific to do with Italian history or society but tells some kind of a universal story.
As a matter of fact, the movie could be set almost everywhere in the world, as it depicts problems and issues of contemporary life. The mood is light and the movie could be mistaken for a comedy yet it focuses the attention on personal relationships – either of love or friendship – and what lies behind a seemingly normal life.
The movie depicts a group of friends who gather for dinner, on a warm summer night. Everything seems perfect and the atmosphere is jolly and relaxed. But things change when one of the characters proposes a game: they all must place their phones on the table to prove they have no secrets from each other.
Whatever comes, text messages, calls, messages, must be shared with the whole party of friends. Secrets become known and love and friendship are put at great risk.
With this movie, the focus shifts again towards contemporary Italian society – history, to be more precise.
This amazing documentary, which has won lots of awards, including the Golden Bear at Berlin International Film Festival in 2016, and has even been nominated for the Academy Awards, is about probably the most dramatic problem of Italy these days: the refugee crisis and the arrival of immigrants from Africa on the Italian shores.
In order to shoot this documentary, Francesco Rosi, the movie director, has spent months living in Lampedusa, the Mediterranean island that is one of the frontlines of the refugee crisis in Europe. Living there, Rosi has captured the history, culture and the current everyday reality of the island, as hundreds of migrants land on its shores on a weekly basis.
Veloce come il vento
Let’s relax a bit from the harsh reality of Fuocoammare and enjoy a movie about brotherhood, fast cars, and big dreams.
The movie tells the story of Giulia De Martino, only 17 and already racing cars, who has to face the death of his father, who was her trainer and mentor, and the return of her drug-addict brother.
I have to admit that I really don’t like Stefano Accorsi and I almost can’t stand his way of acting, but Matilda De Angelis – the actress who plays Giulia – is so great, smart and brilliant that I was able to enjoy the movie despite Accorsi’s presence.
Moreover, the story is an interesting coming-of-age drama combined with races and fast cars. Not the best movie ever, but definitely enjoyable.
Noi e la Giulia
Noi e la Giulia is probably not the best Italian movie ever released, not even the best Italian comedy, but it is undoubtedly a nice and enjoyable film with a laid-back mood, which will make you spend a couple of hours having fun and laughing hard – and sometimes is just what you need, right?
Written and directed by Edoardo Leo, one of the most popular Italian actors these days (you can find him in Smetto quando voglio as well), the movie tells the story of three guys who are looking for a turning point in their lives.
Their chance comes when an agriturismo is put up for sale and, since none of them can afford to buy it on his own, they decide to purchase it together. This will cause a lot of fun situations which will give you quite a few opportunities for a good laugh.
Well, I really hope you’ll like these movies! If you are interested in Italian cinema and are looking for some other recommendations, last year I wrote a post about movies about Italian contemporary history, which you might find useful.
By the way, what is one of the best recent Italian movies, in your opinion? I’d love to know!
*2019 Update: A third movie has been made, it’s Smetto quando voglio – Ad Honorem.
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