“I Can Quit Whenever I Want” (2014): An Italian Neon Drug Trip (Review)
I Can Quit Whenever I Want (or Smetto quandary voglio), by first time director Sydney Sibilia, is the rather funny tale of a neurobiologist who can’t get a research grant, desperately needs money due to the recession and discovers a way to make legal narcotics to sell to partygoers of varying shapes and sizes.
This isn’t the most original film you’ve seen. It’s all very basic, Guy-Richie-by-way-of-nerdy-Italians but has two distinguishing features: The hyper vivid color palette and novel character models. The former ensures that everything looks like it’s slicked with neon and is always interesting to look at (though at times it can feel like a bit much and really only makes sense in the party scenes) and the latter keeps the formula from being completely stale. It’s a bike with well worn wheels but it still rides well.
The colorful cast of characters that Pietro (played by Edoardo Leo) assembles for his gang is what really make the film. They’re all academics; chemists, anthropologists, Latin scholars, archaeologists and financial analysts. The gist of it is that they’re all best suited to teach and research but the recession has caused cutbacks so they’re all stuck in low level jobs, cooking at Chinese restaurants or pumping gas. Pietro doesn’t get his academic money but lies to his girlfriend that he did, covering it up by setting up his scholarly drug ring and racking in the dough. Most of the comedy is mined from this group of men being in situations that they’re completely unused to and behaving in funny ways. They’re fish out of water and they’re all rather energetic fish.
Pietro’s girlfriend, Giulia (played by Valeria Solarino), really gets the short end of the stick in the script department, she never develops into anything more than a one-note nagging wife-type. There’s a brief stint where the conflict between him and her becomes interesting because she’s a psychologist working with recovering drug addicts but that quickly takes the backseat behind thirst for money above character traits. Perhaps that’s meant to speak to some larger point about our commercial culture, but the other main characters have more elements and depth beyond that so it’s hardly an excuse.
I Can Quit Whenever I Want is a fun but flawed romp that doesn’t do much new but accomplishes what it tries to do more than just competence. A well constructed crime comedy with some heightened social commentary, it gets the job done.
The Good: It’s snappy and fun; The cast is likable
The Bad: The hyper vivid colors look cool but can sometimes be very distracting;
The Undeserved: It won the top prize at RIFF over several more deserving films.