Looking for Alibrandi is a classic genre piece essentially about ethnicity, adolescence and the journey of a teenage girl dealing with family, friends and loss. Pia Miranda shines as Josie Alibrandi, a seventeen year old Sydney school girl in the 2000 coming of age drama directed by Kate Woods. In adapting her own novel into a screenplay author Melina Marchetta has offered a true representation of her work on film.
Josie is fed-up of her life, ruled by her neurotic mother (Greta Scacchi) and her controlling Nonna (Elena Cotta) she wishes for an Aussie life without ‘Italian’ complications. She longs to find her absent father Michael (Anthony LaPaglia) and to be noticed by her friend and private school boy John Barton, played with charm and pure cheekiness by Matthew Newton.
Initially, the film is pure stereotypical fun with ‘westies’, ‘skips’ and ‘wogs’ all rating a mention. It is transformed instantly into a film about loss when John takes his own life leaving Josie with only a note. John’s death offers Josie a harsh reality check and she begins dating Jacob (Kick Gurry) a motorbike riding, long haired Aussie boy of whom her mother completely disapproves.
Josie is overcome by her changing world, a world without John but with a father who wants to be part of her life for the first time. When secrets are exposed she learns the truth about her mother and Nonna, their strengths and weaknesses, it is then she can finally identify with her family and their difficult past.
Looking for Alibrandi is a teenage girl delight and as thousands of high school students found, an emotional text to study and discuss. Dealing with important adolescent issues of belonging, family, suicide, friendships and relationships Looking for Alibrandi takes the audience on a wild ride with which they can identify.
Laugh and cry as you enter the Italian world of Josie, her family and friends who take the coming of age genre to a new level in Australian cinema. Marchetta has given us a truly remarkable story that resonates in both your heart and your mind, long after the film has ended.
Looking for Alibrandi was released in Australia on May 9, 2000 through Beyond Distribution.