Set in a tiny seaside town, Fabio Mollo’s feature debut is a quietly evocative drama about a family’s attempts to cope with the loss of their son, and the impact of his absence on his teengaed sister Grazia (Miriam Karlkvist).
South is Nothing
Shot in Calabria next to the Strait of Messina, this low-key, understated, and highly effective film is a fine evocation of loss and confusion in a besieged Italian family. South is Nothing is centred on the integral and honest performance by Miriam Karlkvist, who absolutely nails the central role of a seventeen-year-old devastated by the loss of her beloved brother, Pietro.
The film not only depicts the impact of this absence on the teenaged Grazia, but it does so within the context of the larger social emptiness of a community that is struggling economically. Grazia's father runs a fish store but is being urged by local interests to sell out and move on, preferably up north where there are greater opportunities. Grazia observes her father's troubles but is wrapped up in her own grief. Entering into dreamlike states, she finds Pietro's ghost appearing to her in instances of magical memory. Further triggering her memories is a relationship that starts between Grazia and a local boy that allows the two of them to party and drink and revel in the present. Meanwhile, secrets are being kept from our protagonist.
South is Nothing is a film of complete
restraint. It slowly and meticulously builds
towards well-judged moments where the
past shows that it is indeed never dead,
and, in Faulkner's words, is "not even the
past." Set in a tiny seaside town, the film
feels completely at ease with its environment,
and first-time feature filmmaker
Fabio Mollo never overreaches in an
attempt to find drama.