Micaela Ramazzotti – Critical notes
Davide Di Giorgio
The first impression that Micaela Ramazzotti makes on our imagination is extraordinarily graphic: a charismatic presence in the teen photo stories of Cioè, and then, almost as if by an osmotic process, here she is a graffiti artist who gets Dracula to fall in love in Zora The Vampire by the Manetti Bros, from the famous comics of Edifumetto. A nice combination of creative influences, to which we could add her presence in the music video of Il mondo insieme a te, by 883, a trend that she would occasionally continue to be a part of in the future, with Biagio Antonacci and Claudio Baglioni. Those who were around at the time will remember witnessing the sensational birth of a new, fresh talent, capable of blending into youthful modernity, and therefore adept at capturing the tumultuous mix of influences in the 1990s, such as those school demonstrations and a generation with a feverish desire to be present and be heard. Indeed, even as her career later developed, her presence on the big screen has always remained that of a face and body designed to perform unconventional acts.
With this aforementioned perspective, the role that probably most significantly characterizes her, remains that of Anna, the mother who literally gives heart and soul to Paolo Virzì’s The First Beautiful Thing: a free-spirited figure in an Italy that was still discovering modernity. A woman who starts out in a beauty contest and then embarks on a haphazard, but cheerful journey full of affection, as well as misunderstandings, first and foremost with her son Bruno who believes she is a woman of loose morals. It is a whirlwind of overwhelming vitality, destined to become a small model for much of Italian cinema to follow (consider The Immensity with Penelope Cruz) and which literally sets the tone of the story in a dynamic that seems like an outburst of energy to keep up with and at times even outmaneuver Virzì’s anarchic yet so meticulously planned cinema. The role of the mother will return in other films, as in Darker Than Midnight, by Sebastiano Riso, where she is among the few luminous presences capable of understanding her son’s journey about a troubled social confrontation with his sexual identity. But she truly excels when she embraces her freer side in Like Crazy, once again with Paolo Virzì, in an anomalous road movie for two, which seems a perfect exercise in how to defy the Thelma & Louise model by relying on instinctive acting that dares the unpredictable gesture; or as in Gabriele Muccino’s The Best Years, another strong authorial presence that influences the actors, but also does not prevent “her” Gemma, a figure caught in a maelstrom of affections, loves and friendships, from emerging as a presence capable of asserting her complexity and truth.
In the whirlwind of collaborations that characterize the 2010s, during which her career experiences its most intense phase, important names such as Gianni Amelio (Tenderness), Pupi Avati (The Big Heart of Girls), Daniele Luchetti (Those Happy Years), Cristina Comencini (Something New), Francesca Archibugi (An Italian Name) all naturally stand out. It is a phase in which her presence solidifies, her roles are more pronounced, oriented to let a fragility emerge, which rhymes with an achieved expressive and interpretative maturity. However, it is when she rediscovers her less conventional side, that the surprises and her early breakthroughs resurface. In this sense, it is a stroke of genius to entrust her with the role/non-role of Her’s artificial intelligence, a character that overlaps with Scarlett Johansson’s acclaimed performance in the original version. She is merely a voice that needs to be “embodied” in order to express the rich interpretative range of a character, who is learning to navigate the world, so to understand its first beautiful thing, yet only to grasp its bitterness as well, in the delicate and irresistible narrative skillfully designed by Spike Jonze.
Finally, 2023 also marks her directorial debut with Felicità, which sincerely explores her character torn between the difficulties of the contingent world that threaten her vulnerability and an inner sweetness that poses an alternative in the search for the sentiment of the title. We eagerly await her new unconventional acts, in front of or behind the camera.