Fortunata, which means lucky in Italian, is the name of the young woman at the center of this story set in the Torpignattara neighborhood on the outskirts of Rome. It is the same location as Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone (1961) and Mamma Roma (1962), now populated with Chinese and Muslim immigrants.
Fortunata (Jasmine Trinca) is a hairdresser in the process of realizing her dream of opening her own beauty salon in partnership with her best friend Chicano (Alessandro Borghi), a tattoo artist. He is a bipolar man who cares for his elderly mother suffering from Alzheimer (Hanna Shygulla of Fassbinder fame). Fortunata is divorcing her husband Franco (Edoardo Pesce), an abusive security guard who continues to rape and beat her, frequently brandishing his pistol, and in a contentious relationship with her defiant 8-year-old daughter Barbara (Nicole Centanni). The divorce court orders a psychiatric evaluation for the child, so they meet the understanding child psychologist Patrizio (Stefano Accorsi). After many sessions with both women, this educated and lonely man cannot resist the sex appeal of the lower-class woman, who runs around in short skirts and tank tops in the sweltering heat of the Roman summer. The two embark on a passionate love affair, in which the woman discovers a new world of bourgeois delights; they visit his hometown of Genova and kiss the dolphins through the glass in the aquarium. This is the excuse the husband needs to obtain custody of the child, and Chinese money lenders take possession of the beauty shop. Love did not rescue this not so lucky woman from her destiny.
Directed by well-know actor Sergio Castellitto, from an unpublished novel by his wife Margaret Mazzantini, Fortunata follows in a similar vein of their other movies, Don’t Move (Non ti muovere, 2004) and Twice Born (Venuto al mondo 2012) both starring Penélope Cruz. The creative couple found a new muse in Jasmine Trinca, who had starred in their previous film You Can’t Save Yourself Alone (Nessuno si salva da solo, 2015) paired with Riccardo Scamarcio.
The actress says of her character: “What I like about Fortunata is that she is defeated in life but not conquered, she offers resistance, she attempts to rescue and emancipate herself to find happiness. She has faith and a love for life, which I find romantic. She is a simple woman, amazed to find a man who talks to her; they come from two different worlds and social backgrounds, but they feel a deep connection, and this gives her a sense of hope.”
Castellitto says: “The obstacles and unfortunate events that happen to her are the inevitable fruit of Fortunata’s behavior, of her primordial and disjointed nature. For love, which is a revolutionary force, this imperfect, impulsive, hungry, needy woman will lose all her certainties and she will change.” Castellitto played the psychiatrist in the Italian version of the Israeli TV series In Treatment, which had starred Gabriel Byrne in the US.