Although at times the viewer is left wondered whether this indeed is a feature film or just an advert for the Liguria/Genova/Italy tourism board, it is just about deep enough to keep the hold until the end.
The beautiful scenery and the back drop offered by the city of Genova in the summer is matched by strong performances by Colin Firth, Hope Davies and Willa Holland. Surprisingly, it is the direction of Michael Winterbottom that fails to make the most of it. Genova looks beautiful as a movie, but it does so despite Winterbottom, not thanks to him.
Grief is personal, no two people experience it the same. Even if they are grieving for the same person. Nowhere is this more clear than in the way the three main characters in Genova look for acceptance and continuation. One (Kelly, the eldest daughter, played by Holland) looks for acceptance and love from her peers, the other (the dad, Firth) looks to recapture his youth, while a third (the youngest daughter, Davies) is gutted by grief and guilt and reinvents the dead person in a desperate effort to use her to feel better.
Some have described this as a supernatural movie. They miss the movie's point completely. It is not the supernatural that makes an appearance here, there are no ghosts on the streets of Genova. It is the psyche that creates the imagery, the human brain which animates the apparitions.
To Winterbottom's (only) credit, he finds a clever allegory in the narrow streets of Genova. They are notoriously tapered and hard to navigate ? one easily loses their way trying to get from A to B. Just as the two girls keep getting lost on the narrow streets of Genova, they get lost in their feelings as they explore a way out of their pain. For one of them, their mum still roams the backwaters of their mind, just as she appears on the streets of the city.
Genova is worth watching for the journey. Do not expect to arrive anywhere, as Winterbottom does not offer a conclusion. Sit back and enjoy the scenery. It works even if you haven't lost anybody recently. Who knows, it might prepare you for it.