‘The Tearsmith’ Review: An Abysmal Movie Of Forbidden Love That Falls Flat.

There is no dearth of young adult films that focus solely on forbidden love and the kind of excitement it brings. There is a percentage of people who enjoy watching such content, and there are several examples of such films that are littered across many OTTs. The After series of films on Netflix and Culpa Mia on Amazon Prime are films that cover the physical intimacy and the growing attraction between two very troubled people, who end up finding their way back to each other. Following that pattern, The Tearsmith is yet another tale of forbidden love between two teenagers who are forced to live together. The common factor between all the films mentioned above is that they are based on books and were picked up to be adapted into screenplays. The Tearsmith is a Netflix Italian original film that is based on the book of the same name by Erin Doom. The movie was released on the streaming platform on April 4th, 2024.

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This one-hour, forty-five-minute-long movie is a story of Nica and Rigel, who are orphans living in the Sunny Creek Home, which shelters many children like them, and they’re leading a life of manipulation and abuse. A young Nica was moved to this home after she lost her parents in a car accident that she barely survived. In the orphanage, she runs into Rigel Wilde, who is a gifted pianist, but he has an odd aura around him. Adeline and Asia are other children raised in the orphanage, which they collectively call “The Grave,” as none of them has had a good experience under the supervision of the emotionally and physically abusive Margaret Stroker. 

Nica was pained by the life she led in the orphanage, which caused her to delve into a fantastical world for herself that is a home to a character named ‘The Tearsmith’, who invokes fears and tears. A teenage Nica is adopted by a loving family of a married couple, and along with her comes Rigel Wilde, who has become her dreaded enemy. Back to being under the same roof as Rigel and now being raised as siblings, they cannot resist the tension between them. Rigel is a troubled kid, while Nica is the kind soul who believes in helping him, as they share the trauma of having lived in the orphanage that changed them. Were Nica and Rigel attracted to each other despite what the world perceives their relationship to be? Why did Nica want to help Rigel?

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The sad part about the movie The Tearsmith is that the writers Eleonora Fiorini and Alessandro Genovesi never really examined the importance of ‘The Tearsmith.’ The genesis of the idea has not been discussed in the film, nor the role that it plays in Nica’s life during her teenage years. The name The Tearsmith is just being dropped here and there across the film randomly, but there should have been some context, subtext, subplot, or character that could be an embodiment of The Tearsmith. The fictional character plagues Nica’s mind, but the premise around it is not set right. There is no proper explanation of why Nica and Rigel share chemistry which runs hot and cold throughout the film. The random aggression of a troubled Rigel against Nica is such a cliche character behavior. 

A troubled Rigel asking Nica for help and resorting to physical intimacy is again a tried-and-tested formula in many films. In this case, these scenes are just added randomly to titillate the audience, as there is hardly any chemistry between the leads. The lack of a foundation that establishes Nica and Rigel’s relationship is the most irritating part of the movie. The trope of a kind girl like Nica falling for a traumatized boy and wanting to help him is problematic. The sexualization of young kids through such films is also a disturbing trend that many writers have picked up and rehashed in many other films in the young adult genre. The film is more sexual than a coming-of-age psychological teenage drama, as there is almost nothing discussed about the mental agony these two along with many other children faced in the orphanage. The director and the writer tried hard to establish a justifiable relationship, but that attempt fell flat, which directly impacted the viewing experience.

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The Tearsmith” does not explore the growing relationship between the children and their foster parents. These parents just walk in and out of the frame, only concerned about their physical wellbeing and refuse to have a tough talk with them. The writing is shallow as it is hard to connect with any of the characters in the show, including the two leads. There are plans for a sequel we assume, but the makers did such a hack job with setting up every role in the film that it does not create any curiosity about the plot of the second one. Also, the authors of such books and the writers adapting the same for screenplays should be wary about the concept of a young girl taking up the responsibility of saving a troubled young man. This trope is toxic, and propagating it sends out the wrong message to a generation that is highly influenced by such tales.

The direction of the film is lazy. Alessandro Genovesi, the director, hardly did anything to make this dull screenplay watchable. There is a voice-over after voice-over from Nica, which is repetitive to the point where it becomes boring. There is no reason why the voice-over was needed. The voice-over of a young woman who is constantly thinking of the man who could destroy her, but who she is strangely attracted to. All of these are presented in the tackiest fashion, and the director is responsible for them. The monologue at the end has to be the most soulless piece of writing and performance, as there is hardly any emotion that could be picked up from the lead’s words. If only the director and the writer focused more on the feelings than the words. 

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The performances by the lead actors and other supporting cast members are forgettable. There is hardly any depth to the lead characters that would help them perform with sincere emotion. Especially Simone Baldasseroni as Rigel Wilde is unsatisfactory. His characterization of a goth-looking kid who is a bad person but seeks solace in the one woman who could change him is the epitome of a drab narrative. The actor could not add any gravitas to his role and only sulked from the start until the end. Caterina Ferioli as Nica only has one expression on her face and just like her male counterpart, the writing of her character is basic and lacks complexity. She hardly had shades of gray to convey her pain and history. Nica’s character did nothing but stalled the narrative. 

The Tearsmith could have been an interesting story if the writers had not spent time on cliche storylines and subplots. This is an abysmal film on forbidden love that never rises above mediocrity. 

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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