In her film, Looking For Alibrandi (LFA), Director and composer Kate Woods explores existential questions – Who am I? What is my purpose? – through an analysis of Josie’s changing perspectives. “This is where I come from. But do I really belong here? ”. From the beginning, Josephine questions her self- identity. Woods develops the notion of change in perspective by focusing on the main character Josephine Alibrandi. The composer presents the film in first person narrative, a technique that constantly reveals personal ideas and impressions from the point of view of Josephine Alibrandi.
From the very first scene of the film Josie’s perspective on her Italian heritage and her relationships with her immediate family are made evident. Josie resents the cultural tradition of ‘Tomato Day’. Woods contrasts the joyful ambience created in ‘Tomato Day’ with Josie’s expressions and feelings. Her Italian background is an integral part of her family’s sense of who they are; it has become the only thing to keep the Alibrandi women connected to each other and by Josie despising it, the tension and friction between the characters is revealed.
At the start of the film Josie does not understand the importance and meaning of her Italian background and culture. She cannot comprehend why her family comes together on ‘Tomato Day’ to squeeze tomatoes. She describes her Italian heritage as a ‘curse’. This is the beginning of Josie’s journey, a journey that eventually leads to an epiphany. This is the starting point; Josie is taking off, similar to the symbolic plane in the first scene, a leitmotif that is used wisely throughout the film.
Josie’s empathic declaration (“I’m Going places”) highlights her clearly negative perspective. She states that she wants to be the “different Alibrandi”. She wants to get away from her present life. Josie is culturally claustrophobic and feels that the only way out, is by rebelling. Josie feels trapped in her Italian milieu and is reluctant to accept an identity which is externally imposed upon her. Up till now Michael Andretti has only existed in the abstract. He isn’t a part of her life, and she has even stated that “fathers are useless”.
It is only at Nona’s that he assumes an unwelcome reality. Josie is just on her way home, after a tense encounter with Nona, she opens the door and a handsome adult is standing in front of her. The obvious first reaction of Josie was a smile, which was quickly erased from her face when she comes to a moment of realisation, and recognises the man standing in front of her as her father. She escapes and rushes home only so she could look in the mirror. This is where Woods uses a mid-shot to change our perspective on the situation.
The shot is taken where Josie stares into the mirror touching her face. Josie is disgusted. She can see the likeness between them and she is horrified by it. “I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist anymore”. Andretti has become an undeniable reality to Josephine. At the start of the movie Josie saw her friend Jacob Coote as a slob from a public school (Cook High), although the audience can sense sexual tension between the two. From her perspective there was no way that she could ever be with a boy like him.
The voiceover when Josie is leaving the school dance with Jacob supports this by saying, “This isn’t right, I’m going home with the wrong guy! ” showing the viewer she still has the same perspective about Jacob. As Josephine’s own identity develops, so does the reader’s perspective on issues within the film due to her perception constantly maturing and changing. This allows readers to understand how ‘change’ is affecting Josephine’s perspective on relationships, culture and identity.