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:: Genova

If you’re the kind of person that usually goes to the cinemas just to view the ‘blockbusters’ then ‘Genova’ certainly isn’t the film for you. Like what Michael Winterbottom has made a career out of he has once again created a film that on paper should be an absolute bore but when you sit down and watch it you find that it completely draws you in and at times genuinely has you on the edge of your seat… now not even the so-called ‘Hollywood blockbuster thrillers’ can always manage to do that.

On paper ‘Genova’ looks like a simple film. Joe (Colin Firth) is left a single Dad when his wife, Marianne (Hope Davis) is killed in a car accident. Joe decides to move to Genova (Italy) where he takes up a job teaching at a local university. While Joe befriends his ex-school friend Barbara (Catherine Keener) she uses her maternal side to take up the role of mother in the lives of Joe’s daughters, Kelly (Willa Holland) and Mary (Perla Haney-Jardine). This isn’t an easy job as Kelly is lured in by the local uni students while Mary struggles to deal with the loss of her mother.

In the past Winterbottom has made a career making films such as ‘9 Songs’ and ‘A Mighty Heart’, films that a great watches but don’t really allow their audience to connect with them. That is where ‘Genova’ steps up to the plate. While Winterbottom still manages to create an event that stuns his audience in the first few minutes of the film, he has also created characters and a story that allow the audience to invest an emotional interest in them.

To Winterbottom’s credit he also creates several moments of suspense that leave you actually fearing for the lives of some of the characters. There are several moments where you genuinely fear for Mary’s life, while Winterbottom teaches filmmakers right around the world a thing or two by not ruining the suspense of Mary’s disappearance by allowing the audience to know what has actually happened to Mary. Watching this sequence you really do find your heart in your mouth.

As you would expect Colin Firth also shines in a role that seems like it was made for him. While many actors would have tried to make Joe a crying mess, Firth shows the character for what he is, a father struggling to cope with everything but holding it all together for the sake of his family. Along with Catherine Keener, Firth pulls of a sensational performance that deserves to attract awards.

‘Genova’ is a film that any serious film lover will warm to an instant. Firth and Keener are truly memorable while this could well be Winterbottom’s best-ever film. He shows here that he truly needs to be regarded as one of the best filmmakers going round.