The feature debut by Luis De Filippis is complete with a delicate narrative and elegant stylistic choices, adding to the film’s overall aesthetic. The film is shot on 35mm and frequents the long shot/close-up contrast within its camera work, inviting the spectator into the intimate family setting.
This drama perfectly encapsulates how it feels to be a 20-something millennial fighting for a sense of independence, and how frustrating it can be to revert back to feeling like a child when spending prolonged periods of time with your family. Most young people can relate to Ren in this sense; whether it is going back to your childhood home for the holidays, moving back there after finishing college, or in this case – going on a family trip, there always seems to be a sense of imbalance.
There is such strong chemistry between the characters within the film, particularly Ren’s (Carmen Madonia) relationship with her Mother Mona (Ramona Milano). Ramona Milano’s performance is captivating, portraying a caring Mother who wants what’s best for her children, but not always showing it in the best way. Mona is constantly telling Ren not to vape around her, and this soon becomes a key element within the story. If it were not for the inclusion of the vape and the need for social media and iPhones, it would be difficult to place the time period of this film. Although vaping can be considered such a ‘Gen-Z’ and modern activity, the scenes in which Ren’s vape is featured within the film are somehow the most important. There is really something beautiful within the silent sharing of her vape with her sister Siena (Paige Evans), even when they are mid-fight. Similarly, the ever-present concern from Mona can simply be translated as a Mother’s way of telling her hard-to-communicate-with daughter that she loves her, and just wants her to look after herself.
Whilst there is an element of tension and comparison between the two sisters within the film, there is also such a huge significance of the vulnerability within their relationship too. The on-screen chemistry between Ren and Siena is fascinating and convincing, with the pair fighting like real siblings would. The narrative captures the highs and lows of the sibling bond, but the bathtub scene towards the end of the film shows an incredibly sensitive side of the two fiery characters, creating an extremely nostalgic, childhood sense of innocence and naivety.
Luis De Filippis is an incredible woman and this truly shows within her work. Beginning her career in 2017 with the short film For Nonna Anna then progressing into a full feature-length success with Something You Said Last Night is spectacular. It is important to note that Ren’s character in the film is a transgender woman, yet this does not define her. Luis and Carmen have described Ren’s character as “a sister, daughter, granddaughter first, and she’s trans second”. This representation is so important for younger (and older!) generations to see – Ren’s relationship with her family is the focal point of the narrative, and that is what Luis wanted to capture with this story.
Overall, the film was captivating from start to finish and the performances from the cast were beautifully raw. Luis De Filippis is only at the start of her career, but she is already breaking boundaries and creating spectacular projects – she is definitely one to watch.
Something You Said Last Night just premiered at the 70th San Sebastian International Film Festival.