‘Beautiful Rebel’ Ending, Explained & Film Summary: Was Marc Real?


Netflix’s Beautiful Rebel looks through the pages of Italian rockstar Gianna Nannini’s autobiography. And while it does pick the most significant turning points in her life and career to walk through, it doesn’t quite end up being an experience that leaves you with much to think about. Isn’t that sort of the point of a biopic? Getting you somewhat acquainted with the protagonist you’re interested in and telling you why they are the way they are. Beautiful Rebel makes some reluctant points that don’t really add up to much. But the ambiguous manifestations of Gianna Nannini’s mental health issues are confusing enough to keep the ship afloat.

Spoiler Alert

What happens in the film? 

Gianna was likely born a rebel. And that’s perhaps because she’d have to speak up to get her way from a very young age. There was no scarcity of love between her and her parents. But her beloved Babbo’s often cruel resolve to bring her up the way he wants has increased the distance between Gianna and music. She’s not the best at choir but absolutely owns a match of tennis. Going against her dad and the pragmatically better path, Gianna has her heart set on becoming a singer-songwriter. Having watched her grow up to be more unyielding with each passing day, Gianna’s parents probably knew that she’d leave to chase that dream someday. And that’s eventually what happens when Gianna leaves a note and makes her way to Milan, a place she believes will be the doorway to getting where she wants to go. The seedy hotel she takes a room in may not have the comfort of her home in Siena, but the people she meets, especially Tina, are so much easier to love than her own family’s ever been. Within a few days of knowing her, Tina does her a favor by introducing her to Katia. She was in desperate need of a piano to practice her songs on, and Katia working at Ricordi meant she had secret access to the instruments. Tina’s tragic death from a drug overdose affects Gianna in ways she can’t even comprehend in a state of shock.

Why does Gianna get fired from Operetta? 

Gianna has an aversion to being told what to do. And that’s mostly because what she’s told to do often goes against her very identity. People at Ariston practically ambush her with their ideas of changing her in ways that’d get her success. But Gianna isn’t herself if she’s not wearing a jacket and letting her hair loose. The real Gianna Nannini has had her battles with the expectations of the industry. Much of this had to do with people trying to get her to conform to gender norms and become an easy-on-the-eyes pop singer. She wasn’t willing to make peace with the objectification, even if it meant sacrificing her chance to have her songs in all the record stores. Her sound first mesmerized the crowd at Operetta, a club in Milan. But even there, she got tired of playing by the uncomfortable rules. The crowd and the owner were all too prudish for “death by self-inflicted abortion,” and Gianna wasn’t too shocked when she was kicked out of the place. 

How did the Germany tour go for Gianna?

Making herself easy to work with wasn’t really Gianna’s thing. Her creative process and her need to stay true to her art didn’t always promise rapid success. So even though she quickly impressed Mara from Ricordi and had her first album out, she had a tough time competing with the artists who chased fast popularity. Mara’s push to make her turn her frustrations into hit numbers was, nonetheless, the thing that made her such a success in Germany. But even that proved to be short-lived as Gianna refused to warp her artistic identity to fit the bill to be on German TV. Mara was on the verge of giving up on Gianna when she was hellbent on having her band replace the backup dancers on the set. Not all of it could be blamed on the people who wanted to change her according to their whims, though. Gianna herself was often the hurdle on her own path. She was asked to come back when the Germany tour didn’t really result in anything substantial. But her rather dysfunctional lifestyle made her insultingly late to meet the bigshot photographer. That’s the point that marked Mara’s departure from Ricordi and Gianna’s quest for someone bigger. Someone like David Roger Kranz. 

How did staying with Conny inspire Gianna?

Meeting Kranz was the start of it all for Gianna. Sure, it was a risky gamble to borrow money from Ricordi and produce her own album, but this was her first shot at winning over the people of Italy with her music. Kranz was on point about Gianna’s music being in need of someone like Conny. Conny was just the right mentor for Gianna. What he found in Gianna was a gem that just needed some polishing. His idea to blend Gianna’s authentic Italian rock with Mauro’s Mediterranean instruments gave her music a space to grow unshackled. It was as though she herself was reborn, which is ironic considering it all started with Kranz, to whom Gianna said that she wasn’t even born yet. Conny’s guidance turned “Latin Lover” into a sure hit. But one hit doesn’t make an album. Gianna’s music has always either come from her personal experiences, the things and people that moved her, or the things she really needed to say out loud. So when she hit a slump, the only thing that got her out of it was a hitchhiker she picked up on her way to Conny’s place. Everything about the guy who left behind the guns and the bombs at Warsaw made Gianna feel like she was looking in a mirror. She too had left behind a home that would’ve choked the life out of her. The words that just weren’t coming to her flowed when he talked about following the bulls he had a dream about and going to Spain. That’s the kind of spontaneity that Gianna wants to feel—the kind that doesn’t come with the anxieties of the unknown. But before she could even get to work on the rest of the songs, Gianna got into an accident that messed with her head a bit too much. 

How was Gianna’s relationship with Carla?

Early in the film, Gianna says that ever since she was dumped by her first love, she’s the one who has done the dumping. What it sounds like is that she’s paranoid about being abandoned and prefers to leave before she’s left. The chemistry was instant and fiery between Gianna and Carla. But starting to care about Carla terrified Gianna. Keeping it as a casual on-and-off thing was Gianna’s way to keep her guard up lest she get her heart broken. But in the process, what people like Gianna don’t stop to see is that the Carlas are having their hearts broken time and again. It was never monogamous, especially when you consider the intimacy between Gianna and Marc, but that’s a whole other mess I’ll get to later. She was too selfish and scared to let Carla fully in. Yet Gianna felt entitled to Carla’s affection and felt betrayed when she saw her kissing someone else. Carla’s genuine feelings for Gianna made it impossible for her to watch her destroy herself with drugs and countless other self-destructive tendencies. But when it came to reciprocating these efforts, Gianna was always too caught up in her own mess to ever really be there for Carla. 

What was the conflict between Gianna and her father?

Gianna’s Babbo is every domineering parent who thinks they have their children’s best interests at heart as they crush their dreams. Carla being a natural on the tennis court was a source of pride for her father, Danilo Nannini. The more Danilo pressed Gianna to pursue tennis, the more intense her love for music got. Gianna perfected the strength to not budge at a very young age. The quality that’d keep her artistic individuality intact in her music career later showed itself in a tennis tournament when Gianna stopped playing in the middle of the match. But even the estrangement couldn’t kill Gianna’s love for her Babbo. He was the first one she called when she got fired from Operetta. It isn’t quite the same for her father. He holds on to his wound and hangs up on the daughter, who still keeps his picture on her piano. It was shattering for Gianna to go home with the hope that it’d all get better and be rejected by her father once again. The prude in him was triggered at the sight of her “vulgar” album cover. It was already pretty awful for Gianna to see her father endlessly proud of her brother Alessandro when her achievements embarrassed him. But being asked to leave broke her in a way that she’d never completely heal from. 

Was Gianna hallucinating Marc?

Gianna and Marc’s dynamic was sort of odd from the start. Every word exchanged between the two was cryptic, and it was strange how they continued to be in each other’s lives without ever having a talk about who they were to each other. But for some reason, Gianna’s always seemed to trust Marc. He was always sort of just around—whether to take her on an LSD trip at the Germany concert or get into a car accident with her in Cologne. But Gianna’s not been the same ever since the accident and the subsequent pressure to create a hit. Her bout of psychosis is only noticed when it has already gotten pretty bad. Gianna absolutely butchers the recording with Conny when hallucinations of bugs and creepy sounds overcome her. Even though it’d gotten predictable by the time the revelation came, we formally get to know Marc’s existential status when Conny and his wife come to check on Gianna in her hotel room. There’s no one in the space on the floor. Gianna hugs the air above. Marc’s always been Gianna’s imaginary “Latin Lover.” The fact that she’d go on to tell Carla that it was written about both her and Marc might mean that Marc was a version of Carla Gianna used to carry around with her in Carla’s absence. But Marc evidently used to take her father’s form too sometimes. At Conny’s place, Marc once told Gianna that she’d do what she was told. It sounds a bit too akin to something her Babbo would say, no?

Did Gianna make peace with her father?

Maybe the long silence had softened Danilo’s heart. By the time Gianna’s psychosis left her helpless and vulnerable, Danilo had already come to love her for who she was. He was the perfect dad when his daughter didn’t even have the senses to fully grasp her surroundings. Gianna’s hallucinations were going out of hand when Danilo came to pick her up. And the same man who had to stop her from singing every time she did as a little kid now sings to his daughter to comfort her. Carla joining her parents in getting her better made it relatively easier for Gianna to keep hoping even when nothing made sense. Carla lying about Gianna’s experience with LSD to keep her out of the psych ward is another thing that makes me wonder if Marc was a version of her. The LSD trip with Marc was all in Gianna’s head after all. So it might’ve been something that Gianna wanted to do with Carla, and the hallucination was a bizarre wish fulfillment. Considering the real Gianna Nannini and Carla Accardi went on to tie the knot later on, it’s safe to assume that Carla never left Gianna’s side.

In Beautiful Rebel‘s ending, Gianna seems to have learned how to compartmentalize. She was made to go on stage way too soon. But even Carla’s support couldn’t keep her from cracking under the pressure. She played the part of a sane person on stage while her hallucinations waited for the curtains to roll. Gianna went on to be an icon of European rock. But what truly contributed to her healing was her reconciliation with her father. On his deathbed, Danilo gave her the validation and love she’d always suffered without. The man who was once ashamed of his name being associated with her music came to feel pride over the same thing. A song as a eulogy is the only fitting sendoff Gianna could’ve given her father at his funeral. After all, her music changed him for the better. 

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Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjee
In cinema, Lopamudra finds answers to some fundamental questions of life. And since jotting things down always makes overthinking more fun, writing is her way to give this madness a meaning.

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