‘Italian Studies’ Review: Vanessa Kirby Chases Her Own Identity in a Teasing Miniature Psychodrama

‘Italian Studies’ Review: Vanessa Kirby Chases Her Own Identity in a Teasing Miniature Psychodrama
“Italian Studies” begins on that most minor, familiar but nonetheless disorienting of social embarrassments: You run into a person who knows you, but you cannot for the life of you remember them. For most of us, it’s a simple slip of the memory. For London-based writer Alina, confronted with a blank space in her brain after bumming a cigarette off an apparent stranger, it’s a callback to a longer, more damaging period of dissociation — when, while living in Manhattan, she suddenly forgot who she was for several days. Adam Leon’s minor-key, jaggedly structured indie isn’t concerned with the specific whens, hows and whys of Alina’s out-of-nowhere amnesia, but with the hazy in-the-moment sensation of being struck with it, the sensation of stumbling for the lightswitch in your own mind. That’s a nebulous-sounding dramatic proposition, though as performed by a nervy, live-wire Vanessa Kirby, it becomes a tensely compelling one.
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