For a film set in motion by a death, Dafne bursts with life. The titular heroine (Carolina Raspanti) suddenly loses her mother in the film’s opening minutes – the accident is never fully explained, but the absence is brutally felt by Dafne and her father Luigi (Antonio Piovanelli). Dafne’s pain rages before her pragmatism drives her back to work, life, and helping Luigi out of the depression he falls into. The story hinges around this small remaining family supporting each other on their often contradictory routes to closure. Deftly sidestepping sentimentality in favour of irreverence and honesty, this film provides genuine delight and heartache in equal measure.
Raspanti imbues her character with an unflappable vivacity; Dafne’s thoughts and emotions demand to be shown and shared with everyone from her father to new acquaintances, giving her an instant ability to win the hearts of all around her, viewers included. Piovanelli has the quieter role, as Luigi’s mourning pours through the cracks in Dafne’s no-nonsense approach to moving on. Writer-director Federico Bondi’s script sparkles; father and daughter irritate and lash out at each other as often as they bolster each others’ spirits, but their bond is never in doubt. Kindness seeps through every scene and interaction – from Dafne’s unabashed love of her job and coworkers to chance encounters with restaurateurs and state troopers on a final pilgrimage to honour their lost loved one. Nothing out of the ordinary occurs, but Dafne delivers a moving, truthful small-scale tragicomedy that proves memorable.
Dafne knows how to capture the individualism, absurdity, and staying power of grief without veering into soppiness. With its beautiful portrayal of a difficult but loving father-daughter dynamic – constantly changing as they grow into new experiences and learn from each other – its poignancy and overwhelming love of life make this film truly special.
CAST: Carolina Raspanti, Antonio Piovanelli, Stefania Casini
DIRECTOR: Federico Bondi
WRITER: Federico Bondi
SYNOPSIS: A supermarket assistant with Down Syndrome supports her grieving father after the death of her mother and his wife.