Sara Serraiocco stars as seventeen-year-old Jenny in Chlorine (Cloro), a lovely and melancholic portrait of a girl’s struggle to fulfill her purpose and make sense of the world in the midst of familial dysfunction and tragedy. A devoted synchronized swimmer with dreams of participating in the upcoming competitions, Jenny’s aspirations are momentarily thwarted when her father Alfio (Andrea Vergoni) suffers a nervous breakdown after her mother dies. Unable to cope with the death, Jenny and her much younger brother Fabrizio (Anatol Sassi) are uprooted from the vibrant seaside community of Ostia to the isolated, southern rural village where Alfio grew up.

Jenny takes charge as head of the household with little help from her uncle (Giorgio Colangeli), her only other remaining adult relative. Beyond providing them with a shabby little cabin in the mountains, he is reluctant to help, which forces Jenny to take a job as a housekeeper at a hotel off-season. She soon discovers an indoor pool and finds a way to secretly access it to continue training and practicing for the tournaments. In the meantime, she manages to enroll her brother at the local school despite an obstacle. Jenny also takes charge of monitoring her father, who is liable to wander outside the home or harm himself in the instances when he isn’t catatonic or trashing the house.

The script, co-written by director Lamberto Sanfelice and Elisa Amoruso, at first unfolds with scenes from Jenny’s vibrant former life as a happy teenager interspersed with scenes of her current life in the mountains. Jenny’s hair in these scenes tell the passage of time: a high bouncy ponytail and later a lifeless braid. In a film that shows more than it tells, it’s easy to miss the small, but important details that explain the story. Beautiful underwater shots of Jenny at the bottom of a dark pool convey feelings of drowning in despair after realizing that this new life may not be temporary.

One thing is certain, Serraiocco plays Jenny as a survivor with a dogged persistence to follow her dreams in spite of the adults who have failed her. Determined to achieve her goals, she uses everything at her disposal no matter how inconvenient or risky. She even strategizes with her best friend from Ostia and enlists the help of the mysterious, foreign groundskeeper (Ivan Franek). The film features beautiful underwater shots and sequences of Jenny practicing on her own and, earlier in the film, with her team. Serraiocco’s focused portrayal is a multilayered and complicated performance, showcasing her as one to watch.


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