Starring: Claudio Bisio, Anita Caprioli, Giuseppe Battiston
Director: Giulio Manfredonia
Running Time: 111 mins
We Can Do That (Si può fare) is an Italian film about the newly hired director of a group of former mental patients now placed in a work cooperative. With government funding and interest for their programme falling rapidly, the director aims to improve their lives by motivating them with a practical team project.
With a warm-hearted and genuine story, combined with a range of energetic and charismatic performances, there’s a lot to like about We Can Do That, and its political themes also make for some riveting and often thought-provoking viewing, albeit not quite as emotionally powerful as you may hope. As likable as the film is, though, it lacks in really brilliant comedy, as well as often underwhelming drama, meaning it comes off as a rather middling film that doesn’t fulfil the potential of its story.
But let’s start on the bright side, with the fact that, for all its flaws, We Can Do That is a kind-hearted, uplifting and thoroughly likable film. Far from the cheesy drama style that the synopsis may make you think of at first, it gives an intimate and entirely genuine portrayal of a group of seemingly forgotten people finding a new purpose in their lives, and with a good sense of humour and charisma working well throughout, it’s more than enough to put a smile on your face.
All of that is bolstered by a range of strong performances, with Claudio Bisio in the lead role as effortlessly fun-loving and energetic as always, while a number of the supporting players all shine with their varying characters and their individual quirks and lovable qualities. Similar to the Spanish film Champions, which focuses on a very similar premise, We Can Do That is a big ensemble movie, but more so than Champions, this film manages to endear you to each and every one of its leads.
As a result, while it may not be the world’s most powerful or endlessly hilarious watch, there’s always something to smile about with We Can Do That, and sometimes that’s all you need with such a warm-hearted and uplifting story.
However, as pleasant a watch as this film is, we can’t entirely ignore the fact that it fails in a number of its main intentions, principally in delivering an emotionally stirring watch alongside its uplifting, pleasant nature. I mentioned earlier that its political themes about the abandonment of mental health patients in the past in Italy does prove thought-provoking at times, and while that’s certainly the case, the film doesn’t do much else to really captivate you on a deeper level.
And that’s a shame, because while similar films like Champions have failed in a similar regard, classics like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest have shown the emotional power that can be delivered through a grounded and intimate portrayal of people seemingly discarded by society discovering the joy of life, and that’s what We Can Do That really doesn’t manage to do.
Also, as likable and energetic as the performances and film in general are, I can’t say that it’s the funniest movie ever made. It has a good, heartfelt sense of humour that makes everything about it immensely lovable, but its jokes and gags are far from laugh-out-loud funny, and the way that so many of the jokes do fall flat on their face makes for an often frustrating and underwhelming watch.
Overall, I liked We Can Do That, principally because of its wonderfully heartfelt, uplifting and positive attitude throughout, and while it really doesn’t do much to make you laugh out loud, nor does it ever prove an emotionally enthralling watch, it does more than enough to make you smile and feel good throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.9 in the end.