Ma Quando Arrivano Le Ragazze? - Music to The Ear

The Egyptian Theatre closed its ten-day festival "Cinema Italian Style" with the ambitious "Ma Quando Arrivano Le Ragazze" (So When are The Girls Coming?). Directed by veteran director Pupi Avati, So When Are The Girls Coming? is a tale of love between two best friends, two lovers and two instruments that takes the audience on a lyrical stroll through jealousy, talent and romance.

Love triange: Gianca (Briguglia), Francesca (Vittoria Puccini) & Nick (Santamaria)

The film centers on the relationship between a man and his self image, but does so through a brilliant display of musical genius. Nick (Claudio Santamaria) is a fatalistic, self-taught trumpet player while Gianca (Paolo Briguglia) is the wealthy son of a musician, bred to play the saxophone. Although the two started off at opposite poles of education and wealth, they become best friends and seasoned musicians. They continue to bind their lives together as Gianca becomes Nick's mentor and Nick has a child with Gianca's sister. Eventually, to everyone's surprise, Nick spreads his wings and shows the world that his talent is that of legend. As Nick's solo career and fame take off, so does his taste for beautiful women, including Gianca's precious wife. Gianca must now struggle with his own insecurities in regards to his musical aptitude as well as his worth as a man, which leads him to make decisions from which he may never recover.

Avanti accomplishes a grand design by intricately examining serious themes while encouraging dream-like, non-chalant performances from his cast. Much like jazz music, which can jump from easy-going and whimsical to emotional fervor in a few notes, the characters in the film all hide surging tidal waves of insecurity and pain underneath unaffected, glib exteriors. Not unlike the improvisation of a jazz movement, the film unfolds with a pattern of seemingly disconnected themes: the definition of a comet traveling quickly and brilliantly towards a collision path with Jupiter; a young couple attending a concert signifing a defining moment in their relationship; two music students meeting for the first time on a train. The themes are richly tethered to one another through the gorgeous music in the film. Written by award-winning composer Riz Ortolani, each piece of music in the film is absolutely poetic and absorbing. Even the fledgling music lover cannot help but be completely overwhelmed by the rich, intricate notes. The audience falls in love with Nick's trumpet just as the characters in the film cannot resist the charm of his instrument. This creative and beautiful idea of integrating music with story, notes with self-examination, jazz with cinema provides an experience that is satisfying on many levels.

Francesca embodies beauty and grace to Gianca

So When Are The Girls Coming? provides an amazing show of music, love, friendship and survival, a beautiful lesson on self-love and understanding. The film is as optimistic as it is heartbreaking as it examines serious issues of self-worth in an unbelievably comforting and enlightening way. Although Gianca is given a cruel task of facing the embodiment of his immense fears in the incarnation of his best friend, Avanti allows his character to emerge triumphant. Instead of taking Gianca into an abyss of bitterness and resentment, Avati allows Gianca to rise above anger, jealousy and betrayal. Avanti puts a beautiful spin on lost dreams and lost love by allowing his character to accept and grow from his experiences, instead of becoming paralyzed by them.

Interestingly, this film (Avati's third in a loose trilogy to be inspired by jazz music) was described as Avanti's "most autobiographical" by Santamaria. Avati was a former jazz musician and clarinetist whose student very quickly became a much more famous and accomplished artist than himself. Perhaps this film shares with its audience the life lessons learned by Avanti - that one must be able to appreciate the talent of others, but must never lose heart in the talent of one's self.

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