TIFF 2023 | I Told You So (Ginevra Elkann, Italy) — Platform

By Gabrielle Marceau

An absurdly yellow fog hangs thick over the churches, cemeteries, and stylish apartments in Ginevra Elkann’s I Told You So—an inescapable sign of incoming planetary collapse. But the quirky characters in this apocalyptic vision—a priest battling addiction, a house-bound grande dame, the lonely compulsive eater who cares for her, and an alcoholic divorcée handmaking a gift for her estranged son—are too enveloped in their personal dramas to register the end of the world. All except Gianna (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), who catches on that time is running out but believes God is punishing them because of her former friend (and manic fixation), porn star Pupa’s (Valeria Golino) comeback concert. I Told You So’s visual style is aggressive—nauseating colours, extreme closeups, dripping sweat, steam-room haze—and its emotional reach is meek, as it doesn’t take advantage of its conceit (one day in Rome during an unseasonable heat wave) to attempt any moral, psychological, or even vague cosmic observation. But it’s not a chore to watch, as Bruni Tedeschi and Golino are particularly amusing as the housewife on the verge and the sleepily effervescent star. The final image of the film (which I won’t spoil) is effective and clever, with style completely overtaking structure. But after the fog lifts, and one rival has vanquished the other and some families have fallen apart while others have come together, it’s unclear what these stories say about one another, let alone what they say about our dying world.