“There is still tomorrow”, by Paola Cortellesi: the path of an Italian Mother Courage towards emancipation

A film capable of bringing together more than five million spectators and raking in more than 32 million euros in revenue: Italy has been there for a long time – affected, since 2019, by a drop in cinema attendance of almost 50%. – had not experienced such a phenomenon. Released on the Peninsula in October 2023, Paola Cortellesi’s first feature film, There’s Still Tomorrow , acted as a groundswell, beating Barbie , by Greta Gerwig, and Oppenheimer , by Christopher Nolan. Produced in black and white and in a square format, the film does not appear to present anything revolutionary. No more than the story told, simple as a family chronicle and as old as patriarchal Italy.

However, it happens that a film, like a song, comes at the right time and crystallizes the concerns or torments of a society. This is the case here. It Still Remains Tomorrow has been out for a month when a tragic news item occurs in Italy: the feminicide of a 22-year-old student, Giulia Cecchettin, killed by her former partner. The emotion that this crime arouses throughout the country, the media coverage which is given to it, the speaking out of the victim’s sister publicly denouncing the structural causes of violence against women and the resulting debates contribute to inflating the success of the film, whose subject then resonates with current events.

However, it would be reductive, and very unfair, to attribute the triumph of the film to this telescoping alone. Comedian in her early days, presenter on Italian television, singer, then actress in cinema and theater, Paola Cortellesi, 50, signs a feature film marked by these various activities. The game, the comedy, the variety, the imitation (of genre), everything is in fact brought together, concentrated, in a neorealist drama which one could qualify as pure tradition if it were not associated with this brazen fantasy which makes all the salt. A fantasy expressed both in the staging and in the interpretation, in particular that delivered – all lacy and irresistible – by the director in the main role.

On the edge of a tragicomedy

At the time the film takes place, in 1946, the euphoria has not entirely poured over Italy. The wounds left by the Second World War remain raw, poverty persists, food is lacking. In the working-class neighborhood of Testaccio, in Rome, Delia (Paola Cortellesi) and her husband, Ivano (Valerio Mastandrea), parents of two unmanageable kids and a daughter of marriageable age, are doing neither better nor worse although the others. He comes home from work every day, exhausted and in a bad mood. She, in addition to taking care of household chores, the children and her sick father-in-law, takes on odd jobs, just to make ends meet a little.

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