A lot of things that are annoying or even uncomfortable in real life have been made entertaining by the film. One of those things is a crime investigation. Intrigue, mystery, and excitement about finding out the truth are often substitutes for the pain, suffering, and hopelessness that come with seeing the work of a criminal first hand. We only have to remember films like The Silence of the Lambs and Seven to see that the filmmakers made great entertainment out of pretty gloomy stuff. Yara, the new Netflix movie of the week, tries to do just that by going back in time some 10 years and letting us know about the murder of young Yara Gambirasio. Does Yara again make entertainment out of suffering, or does it fail in the attempt?
Yara is written and directed by Marco Tullio Giordana and stars Isabella Ragonese, Chiara Bono, Roberto Zibetti and Sandra Toffolatti. The film depicts the murder of 13-year-old Yara Gambirasio, who left a sports center one day and was never seen alive again. It is a sad case and one that got a lot of coverage during its time. The death of such an innocent young child hits hard everywhere, and in Italy it became a huge case, followed by a long and exhausting investigation. Giordana’s film puts all the facts on the table, and just from an educational standpoint, the film works as a way to let people know what happened and how the police went about finding the murderer.
As a piece of entertainment, the movie fails completely by using dull exposition, mechanical dialogue and boring performances from almost every actor. The film has the tendency to play it straight and sober when it comes to the findings in the murder case. But when it tries to build character and tries to go for emotion, Giordana fails by using cliché after cliché in the character development’s guidebook.
For example; it isn’t enough for Ragonese’s character to be a beautiful, fierce, and strong woman, but she’s also, you guessed it, a deadbeat mother who is suffering from a strained relationship with her daughter. This is exactly what you expect from her type of character because it is exactly what countless other movies have done as well. When the movie does it, it feels weak and overplayed. At points, Giordana almost falls into using melodrama to pull at the strings of emotion, but it doesn’t work.
Visually, the movie doesn’t play around a lot with composition, lightning, or anything that can give the movie a sense of atmosphere or tone. The camera is pointed at the actors and let’s roll. That seems to be enough for Giordana but in today’s climate where movies and TV shows are topping each other’s quality on a weekly basis, this seems rather lazy and uninspired.
The movie does a good job at presenting the case. Such a good job that the movie really seems more like a reenactment of the events inside a documentary. It makes you wonder if a proper documentary wouldn’t have been the best format to tell the story. As Giordana doesn’t seem to know how to actually adapt all this information into a proper narrative film with characters with motivations and needs.
Isabella Ragonese does what she can with the role, but for a protagonist she’s incredibly dull. The backstory added to her character is cliché at best, and the movie spends no time building her character. We only see her work and that’s it. Yara herself only gets the human treatment by telling us her fears and desires in the form of some diary entries. Outside this exception, everybody acts like a robot. It’s bizarre.
Netflix’s productions have been gaining some sort of fame lately. And not the good kind. Their films are seen as low effort productions, made with only the need to satisfy the demand for content on the platform, instead of the delivery of quality over quantity. Sadly, Yara only reaffirms this perception of the streaming giant’s productions.
Yara can only be recommended for people who already have an interest in the case or are looking to know something about it. But anyone who is looking for something that can be called compelling or gripping, well, there are much better options on Netflix and many other places. Courtrooms can be fun, but this isn’t one of them.