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critics consensus

Michael Winterbottom's tale of grief and mourning, though frustrating in places, is intelligent filmmaking with superb central performances. Read critic reviews

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Genova Photos

Movie Info

Joe is a widowed teacher bereft at the death of his wife Marianne in an accident caused by their youngest daughter Mary. Offered a teaching job in Italy, he takes Mary and her older sibling Kelly to Genova. Initially loving the new lifestyle, Joe soon finds himself torn between memories of Marianne and the possibility of a new romance while the guilt-wracked Mary finds dangerous solace with role models who resemble her mother.

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Critic Reviews for Genova

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (10)

  • Whether you go with this idea might depend on how many times you've seen it before, in sentimental American films. The fact that the film is more artful doesn't make the ghost of the mother less of a cliche.

    November 5, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Though he labours the symbolism of the maze, Winterbottom infuses this otherwise subtle observational drama with the verisimilitude that has become his chief style signature.

    November 4, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A delightful sojourn for one indie filmmaker and his cast and crew in a fascinating old Italian town.

    November 1, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Genova conveys its strongest themes through insinuation, and modulates its shifting moods through Winterbottom's precisely calibrated DV processing.

    September 1, 2009
  • Winterbottom employs a naturalistic style that, in its self-conscious flatness, becomes an affectation, and the complete, wanton lack of any kind of drama is frustrating.

    March 31, 2009 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • A film that's ambiguous, involving and very intelligent indeed.

    March 27, 2009 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for Genova

  • Jul 31, 2014
    Michael Winterbottom in Genova showed us all his skills, except one... knowing how to end the movie! He is a director of such integrity that leaves me puzzled how could he finish a movie like that after giving us details such as awkwardness of hugging somebody at a wake while holding a plate of food, the momentary sigh of frustration a parent gives when woken by a crying child before they leap out of bed to provide comfort and a little kiss of a teacher and student where everything seems wrong... At least Mary (Perla Haney-Jardine) and Kelly (Willa Holland) looked natural and they were the perfect casting choice. Maybe Winterbottom is one of the greatest living directors but Genova is unfinished business! At the end the life goes on but dissaponted crowd in the theatre is a good sign that something is wrong!
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Jul 31, 2014
    If you want action, complex plot and driving narrative with plenty of twists and turns, then maybe, you have to forget this film. <br/> <br/>Co-written by director Winterbottom, the facts of this story are fairly straightforward. Widower Joe (Firth), an English academic living in America, loses his wife, Marrianne (Davis), in a car accident. After months of bereavement he sees a chance for some renewal in a teaching contract in Genova, Italy, and takes his daughters Kelly (Holland) and Mary (Haney-Jardine) with him. Here he is shown the ropes by Barbara (Keener), an old university friend who is sweet to him, though he only has eyes for Rosa (Romeo), a student. <br/> <br/>In Genova, daughter Kelly rebels and stays out late partying while younger sister Mary deals with her grief wandering the streets, with sadness and constant nightmares about her mother's death. Joe tries to keep what's left of his family together as he rediscovers life and love again in an exotic setting-- Genova, a northern Italian port city that is steeped in history and stunningly beautiful. <br/> <br/>With its architectural splendours, the city is itself a wonderful setting. And the performances are solid and nuanced. Colin Firth is an adept actor, if somewhat understated, and both Haney-Jardine and Holland also give performances as his daughters. <br/> <br/>The film resonates with emotional truth and is compelling despite the apparent lack of action. This may lead some to ask: so what's it all about? Life, I guess, as simple as that.
    Cinema F Super Reviewer
  • Jul 31, 2014
    Michael Winterbottom must be on horse tranquillizer while shooting this. Yes, he always tries something different with every movie he makes but this one stands out among his other works, being ordinary. It's too mainstream for Winterbottom. It's a decent drama-thriller, telling the story of a family, trying to deal with the loss of their mother. The name is Genova, because that's where the father and two daughters end up moving. It's ok if he wanted to shoot a "calm" movie for a change but it's bad news if he is going mainstream.
    Serdar C Super Reviewer
  • Jul 31, 2014
    firth plays a widow,taking his daughters to genova italy, toget away from the stress,and be closer to family, firth is a good watch, and genova looks stunning,
    scott g Super Reviewer

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