An aspiring twentysomething writer hesitantly accompanies her equally reluctant younger sister on vacation with their deliriously happy parents, in Luis De Filippis’ resonant, cliché-free debut feature.
Something You Said Last Night
Luis De Filippis
In Luis De Filippis’ resonant debut, twentysomething aspiring writer Ren (Carmen Madonia) and her younger sister Siena (Paige Evans) reluctantly accompany their parents on a family vacation. They aren’t exactly excited, and it doesn’t help that their wildly nostalgic mother Mona (Ramona Milano) cranks up Italian pop tunes, old family favourites, and demands everyone sing along. Once there, Siena drinks and carouses all night long. The more reserved Ren, who is trans, is left to her own devices. Just fired and woefully short of cash, she is forced to spend time with her deliriously happy parents, hang around the apartment vaping and utilizing the free activities the resort offers — all targeted towards children or seniors.
While perfectly capturing the tenor of a summer vacation where sun, watered-down booze, boredom, and embarrassment are the standard amenities, De Filippis goes much further. Percolating underneath everything is a slight uneasiness, reflecting Ren’s discomfort at being in a conservative beach town. And then there are the secrets (hers and Siena’s) Ren’s carrying. Her mother’s penchant for bluntness, meanwhile, means that offhand remarks carry extraordinary weight and cut like a knife.
Something You Said Last Night tells a different kind of transgender story. The melodramatic clichés that have marred even sympathetic portrayals of the trans community are completely foreign to the world that writer-director De Filippis and her team create. The film also bucks tired stereotypes about Italian families being culturally conservative. Norm Li’s sensitive cinematography perfectly captures Ren’s unease and her writer’s observational mindset. And the principal cast (including Joey Parro as loving father Guido) is uniformly excellent. Even so, the movie would be inconceivable without Madonia, who delivers a magnificent performance certain to be seen as a game-changer in years to come. Ditto the film itself.
Content advisory: alcohol abuse