Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Donna : Stronger Than Pretty Review: An Inconsistent Drama Of Someone Finding Their Inner Strength

Release date: February 23, 2021
Running time: 100 minutes
Starring: Kate Amundsen, Anthony Ficco, Catherine Daddario, Sandy Bainum, Steve Barkman, Mikel Butler, Kiera Capitanio, Anthony Coppola, James Cribbins, and James Aronson.
Co-written by Donna Martino and Pat Branch

Donna; Stronger Than Pretty is a romantic tragedy, an unlove story, that spans three decades in the life of a gentle young woman, Donna, as she tries to live up to the traditions and expectations of her Italian roots and of the “American Dream”. That dream becomes a living nightmare and nearly breaks her until she finds the silent force of her inner voice and breaks free from a husband who refuses to be responsible to her, himself, their family, or even his own dreams.

Donna: Stronger Than Pretty has a classic opening and style that sets the timeline for this film perfectly.  It is set in the 70s or 80s and has an older setting that really gets you into this film.  But it is not just the setting, the overall film looks and feels like it's from an older time.  It is a nice touch that really gives makes the classic look of the movie pop.  And along those lines, the film also has a classic sound track that has songs that are either right out of the time period or would be at home there.  From the fashion, to the setting, to the cars, this movie feels ripped right out of another time.  And you are introduced to some of the main characters pretty quickly, as Donna (Amundsen) meets Nick (Ficco) early in the story.  Their budding romance and later issues form most of the conflict of this film and seeing Donna tackle life's challenges is daunting and empowering at the same time.  And I also really liked how Nick bucked your expectations at the start of the film, seeming like a very different person than I thought.  

However, Donna tells a story of a woman who is a victim of domestic physical and emotional violence, and the experiences she has to endure are difficult to see.  The film piles on the drama to good measure, but sometimes the dramatic delivery just doesn't hit quite right.  It feels like the characters are over exaggerating the drama, which makes the line delivery and situations not feel quite right.  It is a shame because the film definitely has emotional situations, and this distraction caused some of the emotion to be lost on me.  The drama is not bad, but it just does not feel earned; like the emotion that should be there just didn't get built up correctly.  Additionally, although the main conflict of the film is Nick's terrible treatment of Donna and their family, Nick turned a little too quickly in the film.  It feels like there was not enough groundwork laid before he did a complete 180 for his character.  I would have liked a little more build up to this, but it seems like they just didn't have the time.  Additionally, the film has large jumps in the timeline without much to tell the viewer what happened.  Occasionally the film would jump ahead and one of the kids would look much older (despite the parents looking the same) or an additional child would just be in the scene.  It made some of it confusing to follow and made me wonder what else happened in the interim.  

Donna: Stronger Than Pretty's message of strength and hard work is an important one that highlights this amazing woman's journey with an emotional story and great style. 

Rent it.

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Paranormal Prison is available in select theaters, digitally, and on demand on February 19, 2021.

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