family on the beach

Review of “Like a fish out of water”: an Italian love


Giovanni ( Antonio Albanese ) works for a prestigious international think tank that aims to redevelop the peripheries in Italian cities. Monica ( Paola Cortellesi ) works as a cashier for a supermarket in one of the most populated suburbs of Rome.

Two opposite worlds doomed to understand each other when they discover that their corresponding teenage children, Agnese and Alejo, have fallen in love. Despite the inevitable initial rancor for the social differences and prejudices that they have with respect to each other, Giovanni and Mónica will decide to join forces to try to end the story among their children. The two together will experience the life of the other in first person, between multiplex cinemas on the outskirts, crowded beaches and natural reserves for the privileged.


A  think tank would be like a laboratory of ideas or center of thought to analyze the challenges of a society and propose solutions. In Italy, as in the rest of the European Union, these groups seek to find funding at the European Council for International Relations to improve the lives of citizens.

In Like a Fish Out of Water, the director introduces us to Giovanni ( Antonio Albanese) who works for a prestigious Italian think tank (a think tank), which aims to integrate the inhabitants of the peripheries of Italian cities with the people of the most affluent urban centers.

On the other hand, there is Mónica ( Paola Cortellesi ), who earns a living in a center for the elderly in one of the most populated suburbs of Rome.

They represent two opposite worlds doomed to understand each other when they discover that their teenage children, Agnese and Alejo, have fallen in love. But despite the inevitable very Italian grudge for social class differences,  Giovanni and Monica  will decide to join forces to try to end the story among their children.

Therefore, As a Fish Out of Water  is a treatise on hypocrisy wrapped in the ever-effective, and sometimes hyperbolic, Italian comedy.

Hypocrisy as a narrative game

Riccardo Millani bases his proposal on the character of Giovanni. This is dedicated to thinking for the weakest, and they also pay for it. He is a progressive, inclusive, liberal type and in constant theoretical struggle to achieve class equality. Until they touch theirs, of course.

And what is yours?

Well, his is his teenage daughter. Having received the example at home of the integrative and egalitarian message of her parents, she sees no problem in throwing a boy of color, full of tattoos and from a marginal neighborhood of Rome, as a boyfriend.

We could get here!

The twist in history, and the greatest narrative variant of Like a Fish Out of Water, is when Ricardo Millani introduces the character of Monica who, paradoxically, also opposes her little son dating a high-class girl.

From this moment we already enter a very Italian entanglement area for the spectator to enjoy while increasingly bizarre situations occur.

An effective four-handed script written by Furio Andreotti, Giulia Calenda, Paola Cortellesi, and Riccardo Millani himself, make As a fish out of water a discreet but good vehicle for fun.

Great Paola Cortellesi, good Antonio Albanese, and great Claudio Amendola

The interpretations of  Paola Cortellesi and  Antonio Albanese  are excellent and keep the characteristics of the Italian idiosyncrasy.

Especially she reflects that frank and open character that the mythical Sophia Loren already used  with her usual self-confidence. Saving the distances of course.

The children Simone de Bianchi and Alice Maselli, however, appear very narrow in their roles.

Other hilarious characters are two twins who share a flat with Monica, and the latter’s husband, played by a great Claudio Amendola, who, just out of prison, appears in the family home at the most inopportune moment.

Neighborhood theaters versus art and rehearsal theaters

Cinema itself is another secondary character in the film streaming 4k. There, we also observe class differences through the scenographic spaces.

The cinemas that Giovanni  frequents are those of “art and essay”, a circumstance that is skillfully used by the director to charge against film criticism and author films.

However, through the character of Monica, we see how popular cinemas are in working-class neighborhoods where people eat, scream, and enjoy movies regardless of content.

Likewise, the filmmaker reflects other class differences. Some are the following: different places for vacations or recreation, different cars, different languages  or different ways of eating. All this finally converges in the fascination of the characters that attract each other as opposite poles.


As a fish out of water it more than meets all the expectations that a comedy should aspire to achieve. Perhaps too sweetened in its final part, this does not prevent the production from managing to introduce through the smile a devastating message regarding the hypocrisy of certain elites.

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