Chewing gum, a foul-mouthed parrot, a medium, the colorful Milan of the mid-1980s, Blondie and a mafia story! Such is the astonishing and explosive cocktail of bang bang baby, the first transalpine original series for Amazon Prime Video, available this Thursday. This pop and colorful “explosion”, created by Andrea Di Stefano and directed by Michele Alhaique, presented in competition in season 5 of CanneSéries, follows the transition to adulthood of a 16-year-old teenager, Alice Giammatteo (Arianna Becheroni, a revelation), who will join the Milanese underworld out of love for his father. Explanations.
” bang bang baby is inspired by a true story”, explains Michele Alhaique, 20 minutes met at CannesSeries. The story begins in 1986, Alice Giammatteo, a shy and uncomfortable 16-year-old teenager, lives a peaceful and boring existence with her mother Gabriella, a worker in a factory in northern Italy. Alice is bulimic. It’s hard to lead a carefree life when her father was killed before her eyes when she was just a child. “Her life will be turned upside down when she discovers that her father, whom she had thought dead for years, is alive,” continues the director.
The mafia out of paternal love
Determined to find her father, she leaves for Milan and finds herself confronted by her father’s family, the Barones, a clan from the Milan branch of a mafia. At its head, his ruthless grandmother Nonna Lina (Dora Romano), who immediately takes Alice under her wing. At the teenager’s request, she accompanies her to the detention center where the girl’s father, Santo Maria (Adriano Giannini), is incarcerated.
Alice is determined to go far beyond the law to win his affections. “Alice’s strength is the love she has for her father, even if the love she has for him is toxic, and she is aware that she is not quite what she should do, she does it anyway,” says Arianna Becheroni.
A meeting that marks the beginning of a new life for Alice, in violence and organized crime. “I focused on Alice. The point of view is always Alice’s. We accompany her through all the experiences she lives, this world she discovers, ”explains Michele Alhaique. And this is the first originality of this story, showing the mafia through a female prism, with a gallery of strong heroines (Alice, the “godmother” Nonna Lisa and Gabriella)
A pop and colorful aesthetic
Another particularity, the series is just as attached to telling what happens to Alice, as to showing how she experiences it internally. “When you enter this kind of universe, you are destroyed inside. We see Alice on the outside doing what she has to do for her father and all of Michele’s work has been to make sure that we understand the psychology, her inner point of view, ”explains Arianna Becheroni.
In the first episode, a scene shows Alice who finds herself buried under Smarties which rain from the ceiling of her room. “Bulimia was the hardest part for me to play. In the other scenes, it was enough to pretend. There, I was forced to really eat like Alice. I suffered and I understood better what she might have felt. Bulimia shows the void that this absent father represented. A void she tries to fill by eating. A hunger that will never be satisfied, because this father, despite his promises to play his role, does not really commit, ”analyzes the actress.
To the violence of the middle of the underworld, the staging responds with an explosion of colors, visual effects and aesthetic discoveries. “The visual aspect is linked to the different tones present in the scenario. It is a quest for a unique language, like the story being told. Obviously, we all had huge references in mind: the Cohen brothers, Wes Anderson or even Paolo Sorrentino… Gradually, something personal was created,” says the director. On the screen, giant chewing-gum bubbles, pastiches of Italian sitcoms from the 1980s and a host of eccentric characters. “I tried to tell the 1980s without having the cinema of the 1980s as a reference, it’s something a little different”, concludes Michele Alhaique. Result ? A stylized and abundant series, a bizarre and imaginative mix of tones and genres and a good dose of dark humor, with The Killing Moon of Echo and the Bunnymen in the background.