Building a good life in run-down suburbs of large metropolitan areas is never easy. It is a vicious circle that the more you try to escape, the more you get drawn into and the further away from change you find yourself. ‘Bia‘, named after the main protagonist of the film, chronicles such a story, with all the hardships involved. The young woman has to work in order to pay the bills that her heroine-addicted husband cannot, all while retaining her dignity. We later find out that she had not been born in this environment, and does not belong to this vicious cycle – she moved as a child to live with her uncles when she was orphaned. However, Bia is forced to adapt and compromise in the name of love and in the hope of one day seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. When a tragedy strikes out of the blue, the young woman has to find a way of dealing with everything.
Director Valerio Nicolosi paints a grim picture of Rome’s suburbs, as matters revolve around drugs, unpaid debts and sexual favours as currency. It pushes forward a bleak atmosphere, and a contrasting sight, perfectly enhanced by the black and white visuals, which come at odds with the sunny and well-lit environments of central Italy. One could argue that there are two main characters in this film. One is, obviously, Bia, brilliantly portrayed by Benedetta Rustici, who takes hit after hit and still finds the power to go on. The second main character, in our view, is the suburban area itself, which acts as a sort of unitary, collective evil – drug addiction, criminal organisations and creepy middle-aged men who are always willing to offer ‘work’ opportunities to pretty young girls. The main conflict arc is not between separate individuals, but between the two aforementioned characters.
A captivating and engrossing experience, the short film is dedicated to “those who resist, despite everything”, and it offers a very meaningful and powerful depiction of such a case, leaving enough leeway for the audience to relate and regard it from a universal viewpoint. It shows that life is not always rosy, and offers a testament to human adaptability and capacity to compromise for survival. Bia reminded us of a quote from the finale of David Fincher’s excellent film Seven, which is uttered by Morgan Freeman: “Hemingway once wrote, ‘The world’s a fine place and worth fighting for.’ I agree with the second part.”