Those in need of right-brain fuel can find a source in “Atlantide,” a documentary-narrative hybrid film that offers a highly stylized look at Italian youth culture. Thin on story and almost free of dialogue, the film is set on the murky Venetian lagoon where locals come together to scroll their phones, ride motorboats, and pump their fists to catch music.
Much of the film is spent following the solemn Daniele (Daniele Barison), a young skipper from the agricultural island of Sant’Erasmo, as he maneuvers his small two-seater around the cove. Like those of his peers, Daniele’s boat bears the name of his girlfriend, Maila (Maila Dabala), who plays passenger on his pirate ships and reluctantly spoils his yen for speed races.
Characters rarely speak, but when they do, the director, Yuri Ancarani, paints the interpersonal moments with admirable restraint. In one sequence, as Maila exposes her emotions to her manicure, Ancarani grants the women privacy by fixing his camera not on their faces but on their hands, subtly intertwined over the cosmetic table.
It’s a rare moment of intuition in a film that disproportionately chooses impressionism over substance. And visually, the film is chock-full: Ancarani depicts bridges open over canals, fortresses collapsing and ominous bricola, or wooden poles sticking out of the lagoon like broken bones. If “Atlantide” had provided deeper access to Daniele and Maila, these images might have provided a moody addition to the characters and their struggles. As it is, any sense of meaning is thrown adrift in a sea of pretty pictures.
Not judged. In Italian, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. In theatres.