Content Note: stalking, ableism
Marta (Ludovica Francesconi) has always had one dream: getting married to the love of her life. Unfortunately she does not have the best cards in life. Orphaned at a young age, not the prettiest and chronically ill (Mucoviscidosis) with the outlook of dying early, finding a partner has been difficult for her. Until she sees Arturo (Giuseppe Maggio) and knows that he is the one for her. Only, he doesn’t know it – yet.
Sul più bello looked like a sweet RomCom without too much substance. And that is not entirely wrong, but it has so little substance, and a couple of issues, that it doesn’t satisfy.
The biggest issue I had with the film is that Marta outright stalks Arturo, for weeks. The film is not coy about it, either. It calls a spade a spade and Marta herself acknowledges that she stalks him. And somehow, we are supposed to think this is funny and cute, and a quirky, but good start for a relationship. I assume that this is because Marta is female, small and cute. But stalking is not cute or fun, no matter who does it.
The second problem I saw was Marta’s illness. We have seen quite a few films with chronically ill and/or dying young people who fall in love, and usually those films are somewhere on the ableist spectrum around romanticization and inspiration porn. Sul più bello is no different in that regard, with Marta having strong Pollyanna tendencies. The film and Marta do have a sense of humor about it at least. That makes things a little better.
Finally, there is the entire thing about being pretty. Arturo is classically beautiful, Marta is constantly said to be ugly, but in real movie fashion, it just means that her beauty is less classical. One would expect a moral to the film that looks aren’t that important, but the film really never gets to any kind of message in that regard. In fact, there is one character who is fat and wears glasses and is disparaged by Marta and Arturo, without it ever being an issue. It made me extremely uncomfortable.
The film has wonderfully colorful production design, nice pacing and a few sweet ideas. But ultimately, it tried a little too hard to be quirky and not hard enough to actually tell a story with likeable characters to succeed.
Summarizing: skip it.