Girlfriend in a Coma
R2 - United Kingdom - Springshot Productions
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (20th April 2013).
The Film

Bill Emmott is a world-renowned journalist, famed for his work as the editor of The Economist from 1993-2006 and regular columnist for The Times. Over the years he has also released several books, mainly about the economies of Japan and Italy, but in 2001, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi sued The Economist for libel after they printed an article titled "An Italian Story", with the issue boldly stating on its front page "Why Silvio Berlusconi is unfit to lead Italy". A judge in Milan eventually threw the case out and ordered Berlusconi to pay all costs raised by The Economist, and although the documentary "Girlfriend in a Coma" looks a lot at events in more recent years, it is obvious that the aforementioned article was the starting point.

The synopsis from Springshot Productions reads:
Italy is a country tottering towards dramatic decline, with a kleptocratic and incompetent political class, a financially bankrupt State, raging corruption, organized crime, a sclerotic and anti-feminist Church, a shambling economy, oh, and of course a few decades of horrible government by a “Bunga-Bunga” Prime-Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, all combining to knock one of Europe’s most vibrant societies on the head.
Those interviewed for the film include Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, philosopher and novelist Umberto Eco, film director Nanni Moretti, women’s rights activist Lorella Zanardo, FIAT Chairman and Agnelli family heir John Elkann, FIAT’s outspoken Canadian-Italian CEO Sergio Marchionne, Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, the author of “Gomorrah” Roberto Saviano; former European Commissioner Emma Bonino, trade union leader Susanna Camusso and many others.

The main downside with this documentary is it sometimes feels very one-sided and pushes the views of Bill Emmott and director/co-writer Annalisa Piras a little more than one would hope, but at the same time, there is more than one moment where it is stated that Berlusconi refused to be interviewed for the documentary despite promises to the contrary. I also doubt any Mafiosa or those politicians connected would ever want to take part either, so it would always be difficult to present two sides. This is just a small downside though, as we are certainly not given this approach throughout.

Many aspects of Italy and the corruption that is hurting the economy is covered. We see archive footage of parliamentary meetings, distressing CCTV footage of mafia hits, news coverage of car bombings and an insight into the thoughts of students and businessmen such as the bosses of Fiat and Nutella. Of note, several interesting facts are shown on screen throughout. Italy is home to more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country, but in the last ten years, the budget in this regard has been cut by 40%. Italy are still in the dark ages with their treatment of women in the professional world with one female journalist telling us that some companies even make women sign undated resignation letters before getting a job, should they get pregnant. Italy are also behind the modern world when it comes to higher education admissions and general economic growth.

Italy is a country undergoing constant change, but with the grip of corruption at such a high-level, it'll be impossible to guess what will become of the country over the coming years to stop it from being left behind. Whilst this documentary is very informative and certainly worth viewing, what feels like a political agenda sometimes put forth by the filmmakers should be noted before you view it.


Picture quality is good for the most part. Presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which has been anamorphically enhanced, there is no real damage, although the general quality does change between scenes shot by Annalisa Piras and the large amount of archive footage from various media outlets which is to be expected. There was a little edge enhancement at times, but nothing that will stop your enjoyment of the feature.


When you initially load the disc, you are given an option of an English version or an Italian version. Both versions use a mixed English/Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, but the subtitles you receive depends on the version selected. If you pick the Italian version, then all English dialogue is subtitled in Italian. If you select the English version (as I did), then all Italian dialogue is subtitled in English. Although a 5.1 track, there was no action in the surrounds and the track is extremely front heavy. Being a dialogue heavy documentary, this was to be expected, but I'd say it was a stereo track that is incorrectly flagged. Dialogue is clear throughout and there were no dropouts or pops, though there was a small amount of background hiss during some of the archive footage.


None at all.


The Film: B- Video: B Audio: C Extras: F Overall: C+


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