I could kick myself for putting this movie off as long as I did. For out of all the movies which were on my Netflix watch list, this is the only one, thus far, I’ve enjoyed. Though, I should note, not without some caveats. Whether or not that should be seen as a deal breaker, preventing it from being worth your time, look below.
At 16 going on 17, Sam (Ludovico Tersigni) has a rather average life. He goes to school, sometimes has meals with his mom, but most of his focus is on skateboarding. After all, he wants to become like his idol: Tony Hawk. Heck, throughout the movie, Tony, through his book, is more of a positive influence than Sam’s own dad Valerio (Luca Marinelli).
Though Sam probably didn’t expect to walk both in Tony and his mom, Antonella’s (Jasmine Trinca), footsteps. That is, having a child at a young age. But while Tony Hawk had his first kid at 24, Antonella did in her teens. Something she, casually, sometimes jokingly, notes ruined her life. So alongside Alice (Barbara Ramella), who was Sam’s girlfriend for a while before the pregnancy, they have a child together. Someone who he tries his best to be more like his mom than dad with, all the while trying to keep close to Alice so he doesn’t repeat any of the faults his parents have.
The Way Relationships Are Crafted
It was quite interesting to me the way relationships bloomed, survived, and us getting to see the effect of them. Take Sam’s relationship with his parents. With his mother, you can see this beauty due to it being clear that she has been his rock. Someone who, despite the hardship of raising a child so young, stuck by him and seemingly didn’t take it out on him. Making it so, when he learns Alice is having a child, while perhaps disappointed, and having mixed feelings, she is supportive. For perhaps she would have wanted that from her parents.
But, on top of that, you see how history repeats itself yet it can change. Yes, he got a girl pregnant around the same age his mom did. However, he learned from what they did and did not do, say and did not say. Thus making it where when little Rufus (Carlo Del Priore & Matteo Giorgini [note]Not including the babies which played him[/note]) came to be, he didn’t have the emotional baggage of knowing he was a mistake. The kid didn’t have to hear that he ruined his mom’s life. He simply could be a well-loved kid.
The Relationship between Alice and Sam
One of the key things always needed in coming of age stories, featuring a bit of romance, is chemistry. For off that back of that chemistry is how we usually see the path of redemption. Especially since there is always this used douchebag move which pisses you off. Something that, even acknowledging the person’s youth, makes it so you want to write them off.
However, there is just something so electric about Alice and Sam’s relationship that allows you to forgive him and want to see them together. Not just because the foundation between the two was done beautifully, but you can tell he really does put an effort into loving her. It is just, what guy can really handle having a kid at 17? Much less, trying to deal with the fact that, in the long run, he has no choice in the matter besides staying or running. An option given to him quite a few times.
On The Fence
The Time Traveling Bits
However, he never commits to being out of Rufus’ life. But then comes the sort of weird part about this movie: It has time travel. Now, it isn’t time travel like About Time, where you go into some closed environment, think hard, and BOOM! But the random happenstance of time travel is used so that Sam can get opportunities which can better his life and sometimes Alice’s. Most of it is little things like knowing to take more initiative with Rufus. Other times it is being more aware of a situation so that he could get opportunities to meet and be with certain people.
And while I will admit it is enjoyable, to a point, it is never really questioned, or explained, how it begins or why. Now, one could just say, “He is just dreaming of a potential future of which he is playing things out like his dad would.” A theory which is acceptable. However, with Sam never once questioning what is going on as he jumps years into the future, then goes back to the present, it all is quite weird. Not enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth, but enough to shake things up and disturb the narrative.
The Complications of Teenaged Pregnancy & Sexuality
One plus about this movie is that it does actually mention using condoms before having sex and how the “Pullout method” is a dumb idea. I should also note, it brings up the idea that girls want sex too and sometimes guys aren’t ready. Not to mention, some guys only last for a few minutes. Which I know is weird to praise, but considering the unrealistic expectations a lot of coming of age films set about sex, it is nice for one to not paint some ideal picture.
But while the movie gets good marks on showing different views on sex than normally seen, when it comes to teen pregnancy it seemed to take Alice’s pregnancy lightly. What I mean by this is, her getting pregnant was handled like your usual complication in a romantic plot. The kind that the male lead has to redeem himself from. With that, as much as Alice notes she had to take a year off from school, you don’t see the full weight of how getting pregnant changed her life. Now, granted, her dad is a lawyer and she seems well off, but it seems the weight of being pregnant is solely seen and not felt. Even if you want to use Antonella’s background as some means to fill in the blanks.
It is Hard To Say If Alice Rises Above Your Usual Female Lead In Movies Like This
Alice is notably aimless and doesn’t have it all together. With that, it is a nice change from the girl usually having all these plans and the guy growing up from being around someone like her. However, after a certain point, it does honestly feel like Alice is just Sam’s current or ex. The one, because of Rufus, he just can’t have enough of so he wants to kiss her on sight. Maybe have one more blessing of having sex with her. Meanwhile, Alice is nothing more than someone who reacts to these advances. The mother to Rufus who wouldn’t mind Sam doing a bit more and that’s it.
Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)
Outside of the time traveling bit, how Alice can be perceived, and how lightly the film handles being pregnant and raising a kid so young, there isn’t much to not like here. We have well-crafted relationships, of which you see how each person’s bond with another affects them. On top of that, the relationships contain such good chemistry that sometimes you have to wish this was a show rather than a movie. Albeit one you wouldn’t want to last forever, but long enough to maybe fill two seasons. Just so you could fully experience the growth of each of these characters.
But what really makes this labeled something positive is that it doesn’t feel generic. For after seeing enough coming of age films, it is like if you have seen one you have seen them all. However, little things like the guy not being some ultimate lover and the girl accepting that, a strong focus on trying to not repeat your parents’ mistakes, and using skateboard culture, and icon Tony Hawk, to support the narrative was notably different. Different enough for this movie to rise above the rest and definitely be worth checking out.