‘Beautiful Rebel’ Review: If You Have Seen Any Music Biopic, You Have Seen This Gianna Nannini Biopic


Walk Hard: A Dewey Cox Story is one of the best movies of all time. Yes, it’s a parody of every music biopic in existence, but it’s a solid critique of the tired narrative structure as well as the bland visual storytelling that the movies in this subgenre rely on. It’s totally understandable if every artist in existence experiences the same plot beats in their life, but do all of their lives look and feel the same too? Do all of them find inspiration for their music in the same way? Are their drug-induced trips and subsequent debauchery a carbon copy of each other? No, not at all. However, the mixture of safe filmmaking and the intent to boost sales for a particular artist is what leads to this nonsense. Maybe if Walk Hard was a massive hit, directors and writers would’ve been ashamed of being so derivative, and we would’ve gotten more inventive music biopics like Rocketman and Amar Singh Chamkila. Since that’s not the case, we are stuck with stuff like Beautiful Rebel.

Cinzia Torrini’s Beautiful Rebel, which is based on Gianna Nannini’s autobiography, tells the story of Gianna, who grew up in a wealthy household in Siena with her father, Danilo, mother, Giovanna, and brother, Alessandro. Danilo wants Gianna to become a tennis player, but Gianna wants to become a singer. So, Danilo tells her to become a tennis player, but Gianna keeps trying to become a singer. They go back and forth on this until Danilo tells Gianna to take off her skirt so that he can tear it to pieces. Gianna does a Uno reverse and tells Danilo that she is going to tell Giovanna about his extramarital affairs if he doesn’t let her pursue a career in singing. Danilo has no option but to let Gianna sing, and that in turn allows her to move to Milan and keep singing until she lands a job. Then she does a lot of drugs, and she sings a lot. And then, prepare to be surprised; she becomes a rockstar. I bet you’ve never seen this story before, right?

If you casually read about Gianna, you’ll find out that she holds a degree in philosophy and that she took part in a Greenpeace protest against the French government for investing in nuclear experiments at Mururoa. And it’s truly puzzling that these are the two things that Beautiful Rebel chose to actively avoid. I don’t know about everyone else, but, to me, these are two of the most interesting aspects of Gianna, as they tell so much about the songs that she used to sing while trying to break out as a star. Without this piece of information, Gianna’s angst seems so performative. It’s evident that she comes from an affluent background. But the way the film’s version of Gianna transitions from her life of opulence to a life of abject poverty makes it seem like she did it as a little experiment. However, if the real-life Gianna has studied philosophy and taken part in anti-establishment protests, that means she probably used her privilege to understand the world she lives in, which led to her disillusionment, and then that was reflected in her lyrics. How is that not better than the tired “broken artist doing drugs, having sex, and still managing to become a rockstar” shtick?

The storytelling in Beautiful Rebel is astonishingly basic. The studio has clearly spent a lot of money for the sake of period accuracy. Apart from that one mullet wig, I guess the hair and make-up, the costumes, and the sets are all fine. But I don’t understand why they stopped there and forgot to present it in a fun and imaginative way. If you haven’t watched them already, just go and check out the musical scenes of Rocketman and Amar Singh Chamkila. It’ll seem like your screen is morphing into something otherworldly to give you a taste of what’s going on in the minds of the aforementioned artists. In complete contrast to that, Cinzia Torrini just points a bunch of cameras at Letizia Toni and then asks the editor to cut to a different shot after every two seconds. That leads to such an inexplicably infuriating and disorienting viewing experience that instead of generating interest in Gianna Nannini’s music, it’s going to demotivate people from dipping their toes into her discography. I am not exaggerating one bit, but this is genuinely one of the worst music biopics and one of the worst movies I’ve ever watched, and Gianna definitely deserved something better than this.

Letizia Toni definitely looks the part in Beautiful Rebel. She is genuinely talented as well. Unfortunately, all that goes to waste because of a bad script and an uninspired director. You can clearly see her putting in a lot of effort to make Gianna feel relatable. But the unironic tone and horrible dialogue kept reminding me of Walk Hard, and I couldn’t take it at all seriously. Maurizio Lombardi is such a talented actor, and even if you are unaware of his Italian projects, I’m sure you’ve seen him in The New Pope and Ripley. So, I have no clue why Lombardi has been reduced to such a cliche and forgettable character. Selene Caramazza’s role is pretty pivotal to the development of Gianna, but her whole arc is so repetitive, and Caramazza herself is way too expressionless to buy into the bond between Gianna and Carla. The same can be said about Stefano Rossi Giordani. Every time he appeared on the screen, I got more and more annoyed. The rest of the supporting cast is there to hit their marks and deliver their lines. They do nothing to elevate the material. Well, on an optimistic note, I hope they get paid well for playing these painfully underwritten characters.

I can’t recommend Beautiful Rebel under any circumstances. Instead of wasting your time on this excruciatingly frustrating ordeal masquerading as a biopic, go through Gianna Nannini’s discography. I think she has a great voice, and her songs are pretty awesome. In addition to that, definitely watch Walk Hard: A Dewey Cox Story, and I assure you that you will not watch another biopic about a musician in the same way again. Once you are done watching the film, recommend it to 10 other people so that they develop a taste for good music biopics and stop falling for tired cliches and lazy tropes. However, no matter what happens, please don’t spend a second of this finite life on a movie like Beautiful Rebel. If you do, please remember that you were warned.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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