1h 30min | Drama | 2020 (Italy)
GLASSBOY Pino Gambassi is a child suffering from haemophilia and is animated by an unbridled desire for freedom and boundless courage: he decides to start his adventure in the world and to show everyone that he can live his life like a normal kid.
A boy named Pino with a threatening chronic illness decides to break away from his wealthy family’s housebound coddling. He makes friends with the neighbourhood gang of kids.
Around the midpoint of Pino’s story, he stops in the rainy street to lower his umbrella and feel the raindrops on his face. By sharing a simple delight with the viewers, the film evokes freedom, authenticity, and a moment of intimacy. Such experiences have been unavailable to Pino because of his illness, and because of people’s fears around it.
The filmmakers use several such evocative moments to connect the audience to concerns of the characters. These supply stakes for the story, which structurally is a combination of a preteens-on-bikes adventure comedy and a nuanced family-illness drama. That empathy, plus some impressionistic or otherwise cinematic flourishes, elevate the film a couple notches above what is otherwise a sweet, modest family film.
GLASSBOY is bookended with the protagonist’s own streamlined comic-book renderings of his story, and that opening suggests a heightened fairy-tale structure for his story. He is a sort of prince trying to find a path out of being penned up in a castle, and out of a looming cursed fate. Heightened imagery appears sometimes, such when Pino suffers a collapse. He is shown as him sinking into murky ocean depths until being called back to the surface. More pleasantly, Pino gets to share a moment with the kid gang’s leader Mavi in a fantastical animated imagined star-scape. That evoked a moment of friendship quite sweetly and elegantly.
Outside of such imaginative moments, the plot and characters are more mundane but still quite warm and entertaining. The film is padded out with a spread of plot and character beats that occasionally are somewhat uninspired. The blowhard tutor character gets set up to be clumsily scapegoated (for the sake of younger viewers, I suspect.) Three of the kid gang characters labour under simplistic characterisations, of the “my nickname is my personality” variety. Jokes about how the fat kid can’t stop eating only go so far.
On the other hand, Pino’s parents are caring and wise in ways I found refreshing. Pino and Mavi’s arcs get some thoughtful writing, delivered through reasonably subtle child performances. There is a dramatic moment when a bullied Pino realises a sort of resilient power from accepting being powerless in practice. Such a moment could be an inspiration for viewers who have struggled with threats like illness or with aggression.
Such moments when the film greatly exceeded my expectations were balanced out by the more predictably pedestrian ones, thus my settling for a six-star rating.
Director: Samuele Rossi
Writers: Rolando Colla, Josella Porto, Samuele Rossi
Stars: Andrea Arru, Loretta Goggi, Rosa Barbolini
Countries of origin: Italy, Austria, Switzerland
Filming locations: Austria
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 4
File size : 3.43 GiB
Duration : 1 h 35 min
Overall bit rate : 5 170 kb/s