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7 March 2017

Review: Pawn Streets

Review: Pawn Streets

Irene Dionisio directs her first feature film after acquiring extensive experience in her previous projects of documentary film-making. The young director, born in 1986, is famous for the filming of several documentaries. Among them, Shores. In the Safe Northern Sun (Sponde. Nel Sicuro Sole del Nord) won the Premio Solinas - Documentary for the Cinema.

Pawn Streets takes place in Turin, in the north of Italy. The plot is based on three different stories; each one has something in common with the others: the pawn shop.  Three distinct perspectives emerge from this shared space: there is Stefano, a young graduate who starts his first job and has to deal with Sergio, a boss without any moral concern; Michele, a retired man who accepts to become a dealer, in order to provide financial help to his family; finally, there is Sandra, a transvestite rejected by her family and shaken by past memories.

The pawn shop is the pivotal element in the plot. It is the place where you can meet rich and poor alike, a wide range of human experiences. It is where people go to pawn their valuables, while trying to recover from a shortage of money. The pawn shop is a metaphor for the economic crisis, the resulting loss of hope and the standards of morality falling apart. The result is the abandon of traditional values such as solidarity and integrity, substituted by selfishness and sordidness.

The director collected these stories in a real pawn shop, and some of the actors are people that she met in this shop. As a result, their performance is natural and believable. At times, the internal rhythm of the film partially reduces its speed, while it risks losing the audience’s attention. The emotional sphere of characters is well sketched, even though several questions remain unresolved, such as in the story of the young trans.  Roberto De Francesco deserves a special mention, nominated for David di Donatello Award for his effective performance of Sergio.

Reviewed by Claudia Armellin

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