Sound Unseen Review: Molto Bella

Musical romance is at least gorgeous on the surface

Director Alexander Jeffery offers viewers a true escape in his new film Molto Bella. The feature, which screened at the Sound Unseen Film Festival, follows two young artists, Josie (Andrea von Kampen) and Hal (Paul Petersen), who meet serendipitously while visiting the Sicilian town of Taormina.

The ensuing relationship is hard to describe. That’s in part due to the filmmakers desire to keep things open-ended, and in part because I never quite bought into the chemistry between the two leads.

What is certain is that these characters’ paths cross at a crucial moment in both of their lives. Uncertain about their gifts as artists and each struggling to make sense of their next step, they provide each other with confidence and reassurance, affirming their creative ability and encouraging one another to keep going. There’s a sincerity to the film that is commendable in its rarity.

The story doesn’t tell us something new, but maybe it doesn’t need to? Rather, it employs well-trodden themes - the vagabond artist, the travelogue, the dynamics of male and female friendships - to explore ideas still worth thinking over. The difficulty of being vulnerable. The terrifying nature of sharing creative work. The pricelessness of deep connection. An old story can still be a good story, right?

It’s not the kind of film I’d watch if I was feeling cynical, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. The visuals and sonic elements of the film alone make it a pleasure to see. Visually, the film is stunning. Shot on location over the course of a month, there are breathtaking shots of Italian countryside, and lush, almost meditative frames captured at sunset.

Also delightful is the film’s soundtrack: Von Kampen, a singer/songwriter by trade, wrote and performed several new, original pieces for the film, including the lovely and sweet “Time and Space (Molto Bella).”

There’s a far away feeling to this film that is both soothing and surprising. The characters seem to live in an alternative time and place where the news of the world, its challenges and dangers, never reaches them.

A true escape. How nice it would be to join them.

Molto Bella
Sound Unseen Film + Music Festival, Nov. 11-15.

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Sound Unseen Film Music Festival, Molto Bella, Andrea von Kampen, Paul Petersen, Alexander Jeffery

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