The story of an icon
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The story of an icon

Beautiful Rebel on Netflix explores the life of Italian rock legend Gianna Nannini

The story of an icon

Countless biopics have been made about rock stars and another recently dropped on Netflix. Beautiful Rebel is a biographical drama that chronicles the life of Gianna Nannini, a legendary figure in Italian music. While her music might not be widely-known by Thais, many may have heard her iconic anthem Un'Estate Italiana, the theme song of the 1990 World Cup.

Directed by Cinzia Torrini and featuring Letizia Toni as the young Nannini, this film delves into the life of an iconic European figure whose music transcended genres. Beautiful Rebel portrays Nannini's passion for music and her journey to prominence in the 1970s. Although the film takes creative liberties, it is a captivating portrayal of someone whose dream was to become a professional singer and performer.

Much like other rock biopics, Nannini's rise to fame was far from smooth. She encountered numerous obstacles including family disapproval, leaving home to live independently, creative conflicts with record labels, and personal struggles with drugs and mental health that jeopardised her career.

Instantly, viewers will grasp why the film is titled Beautiful Rebel. Nannini was fiercely independent, stubborn and unapologetically herself. Despite challenges, she fearlessly pursued her dreams. Flashbacks in the film provide glimpses of Nannini's life from childhood to adolescence. While her traits sometimes appear petulant, the film also showcases her strained relationship with her overbearing and dismissive father, which fuelled her determination to pursue her dreams. Each setback strengthened her songwriting and intensified her passion. Though most viewers will likely be unfamiliar with her earlier music, they'll find the songs featured in the film accessible, particularly if they enjoy energetic 1970s pop rock or 1980s power ballads.

Despite its captivating theme, Beautiful Rebel suffers from pacing and editing issues. The movie skips over significant portions of Nannini's early life and only briefly shows her interest in music before fast forwarding to her going to Milan to start her career. I found everything moved too quickly to get a proper sense of how she even got into music in the first place. This rapid progression hampers the audience's understanding of her initial inspiration. There are flashbacks throughout the movie that add context to Nannini's past, but they appear and disappear quickly. So every now and then the focus abruptly shifts and because the transitions aren't always obvious, it can be pretty jarring.

I wish the overall story arc was more developed to give us more insight into Nannini's influences. Instead, what we're left with is not satisfying. I also feel the film mostly explores Nannini's personal life rather than her professional achievements. Viewers see more of her evolving hairstyles and album releases than her creative process or inspiration behind her songs.

Despite hoping to offer a comprehensive view of Nannini's life over the years and shed light on the darker aspects of the music industry, Beautiful Rebel presents only fleeting glimpses and lacks depth, which prevents it from fully realising its potential. Nevertheless, Letizia Toni's portrayal of Nannini and the film's exploration of her personal struggles make it worth watching for fans of music biopics.

  • Beautiful Rebel
  • Starring Letizia Toni, Selene Caramazza, Maurizio Lombardi
  • Directed by Cinzia Torrini
  • Now streaming on Netflix
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