Stars: Donatella Finocchiaro, Felicite Mbezele, Paolo Pierobon, Maria Roveran and Lucia Sardo
Director: Samad Zarmandili
Scriptwriters: Antonio Cecchi, Gianni Gatti and Salvatore Maira
Composers: Francesco DeLuca and Alessandro Forti
Cinematography: Cristiano Natalucci
Rating: no rating but could be PG 13
Running Length: 100 Minutes
Italian language with subtitles
“Beate,” in its gentle way, reminds me of the film, “Kinky Boots,” in that in order to make money, the manufacturer has to produce a better and different product. “Beate” (Blessed) concerns a small clothing factory and a church of nuns. Each needs money for different reasons and each doesn’t quite know how to obtain money. Director Samad Zarmandili shows the audience two versions of life, and each with a goal. Monetary and sacred don’t always have to be separate. Donatella Finocchiaro plays Armida, who is the head of her factory workers group. Her Aunt, a nun, (also named Armida), is one of the nuns at a local church, which has a venerated casket of the late Sister Armida. This is a tourist attraction.
The film begins when it is order time for underwear (lingerie) at the clothing factory. The girls always complain about wages but keep on working there. Their designs are OK and have always sold. Nearby, at the church, the nuns work on embroidery and lace.. Their exquisite designs are in demand, but alas, can’t keep up with repairing the church. And someone has their eye on that church property. When sales at the factory are down, and it is closed for three months, the women decide to work at home with the odds and ends of fabric that would have been thrown out. They also incorporate the odds and ends of lace the nuns can’t use. Lo and behold, beautiful underwear that sells well. Enter Loris (Paolo Pierobon) a boyfriend of factory worker Armida and the ideas come about the nuns and factory women working together. There are health problems to be dealt with, such as with the head Sister of the church. Who does she select to take her place? The youngest nun there (and also the most business-wise), Sister Prediletta (Felicite Mbezele). Money is to be made and the ladies must step forward to advertise.
The humor in “Beate” comes from unusual places. Facial expressions, quips, and situations (can a nun pose for a catalog?). There is the bantering between the two Armida’s, one does not attend church while the other lives in the church. Then, there is the moving of the casket as work progresses at the church. You almost think Laurel and Hardy are there. Donatella Finocchiaro speaks with her eyes and is the leader of the workers, while rather docile Felicite Mbezele makes Sister Prediletta a force to be reckoned with. Paolo Pierolbon turns "Loris" into a man of mystery and what is he really up to?
The film was done in Northern Italy and this reviewer has visited that region. The gentle mood of the film, beautiful scenery, a first-rate sound track by composers Francesco DeLuca and Alessandro Forti, help to make a good story work. Workers sew day after day for low wages, and no input as to their product or construction design or artistic flair. Gone are the days of only white underwear, now there is also flowers, stripes, polka dots and lace. “Beate” shows what it takes to make something of yourself and a product. There is a world out there ready to be amazed, and a church open to all.
Copyright 2021 Marie Asner