Easy Living (Orso Miyakawa and Peter Miyakawa, 2019): Italy

Reviewed by Kate Marsden. Viewed at the SBIFF 2020.

Easy Living follows Don (a Floridian tennis coach/aspiring artist/ladykiller played by Manoel Hudec), Camilla (a mysterious drug dealer but great big sister and friend played by Camilla Semino Favro) and Brando (an adventuresome and caring tween played by the directors’ younger brother James Miyakawa) on their mission to help their friend Elvis (a homeless illegal French immigrant played by Alberto Boubakar Malanchino) illegally cross the French-Italian border in order to return to Paris where his wife and infant daughter are waiting for him.

Everything about this film was so beautiful to me-visually, sonically and narratively. It’s filmed with such bright colors and lighting that really serve as great imagery for this welcomingly idyllic and picturesque Italian coastal community. Cinematography wise, it was filmed in such a fresh and modern way but also had this wonderfully nostalgic retro feeling to it. The Miyakawa brothers did say that Italian movies from the 70’s inspired them a lot. A shot that stood out to me was a simple zoom-in shot of alka-seltzer fizzing in a glass. I’m not really sure why other than I just enjoyed how this film was broken up with any pleasing shots, such as this one. It has an amazing score/soundtrack which, I found out from listening to the Q & A after the film and a personal seminar with the Miyakawa brothers the next morning, that they actually composed a majority of it. They originally wanted to be musicians so they used their musical knowledge to their advantage and it was getting too expensive to buy the rights to anymore already produced songs for the film.

The characters in this film are all so likable or at least grow to be by the end of the film. The Miyakawa brothers said that told Manoel when preparing to play Don to work on being really annoying for the role. Don first comes off as a conceited American and entitled aspirational artist that hooks up with the wealthy cougars of the tennis club but as his character develops and the audience becomes aware of Don’s rocky relationship with his mother back in the States, he starts to become more relatable.

The film also includes lots of real-life portrayals of Italian culture and societal norms. Like the way the groups of elderly men sit together jovially playing cards or how one sees two middle-aged women gossiping about Don’s rumored sexual endeavors with their peers at the tennis club while Don is standing right by them.

The film has such a wonderful, funny, refreshingly lighthearted feel that I haven’t seen in a long time. This is shown through aspects like the dazzlingly fantastical hilarious dream/fantasy scenes and the gorgeous still shots of the stunning scenery.

I also loved hearing the Miyakawa brothers take on filmmaking, life and just their philosophy on the human experience. They said that “human beings are genetically programmed to not give a fuck about anybody” and that they really wanted to flip that notion it on its head wit this piece.

I could talk about this film forever but in summation this was my favorite film I saw at the film festival and I would recommend it to any and everybody.

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