The Amati Girls

The Amati Girls is a step in the right direction for Providence Entertainment, a self-proclaimed distributor of family-friendly films. However, there need to be many more steps before Providence will come close to making good films (their films include The Omega Code and Mercy Streets). So far, 'family-friendly' means religious-oriented films, although Providence claims that this will not always be the case. One thing that The Amati Girls successfully does is integrate religion into the story without the feeling that the actors are preaching at the audience. Their conversations feel natural and part of their characters. However, please not that the only religious talk is a frequent listing of Catholic saints and earnest requests to 'pray,' and the characters are uninteresting.

The movie follows the Amati family, a large, Italian clan with a strong matriarch and four daughters. Dolly (Cloris Leachman, Hanging Up, Music of the Heart) is the quirky mother, recovering from the death of her husband by planning every detail of her funeral. Denise (Dinah Manoff) is single and unwilling to make a commitment. Instead, she wants to pursue a singing career. Dolores (Lily Knight) lives with Dolly because she is retarded, and now longs for a boyfriend. Grace (Mercedes Ruehl, What's Cooking, The Minus Man) is unknowingly following the life of her mother Dolly. She is slowly caving in to the pressures of family and losing her independence and self-identity. Christine's (Sean Young, Sugar & Spice, Poor White Trash) marriage is falling apart because of her workaholic husband.

The Amati Girls has such a long way to go because it is so melodramatic. Writer/director Anne de Salvo (Women Without Implants) makes everybody so bland and annoying that watching the film becomes tedious. There is no linear narrative per se, just a bunch of marginally related stories centering on the troubles of the Amati women. There are men in their lives, but they have so very little screen time and charisma. Basically, something happens, and at least two women argue and yell. Then they cry. Repeat. Every woman is experiencing some sort of life crisis, and each must solve it in her own melodramatic way. Sappy is a good way to describe The Amati Girls. De Salvo refuses to acknowledge any sort of subtlety, opting instead to go all out in each situation. The near-continuous stream of cheesy dialogue and weepy moments soon loses all intended effect on the viewer. There are three generations of Amati women in the movie, and each one whines continuously.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated PG for mild language and brief sensuality.

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