The Darkest Comedy No One Saw in 2023 Is Coming to Streaming

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Summary

  • Dark comedy is a delicate balance of humor and seriousness, and finding the right mix is crucial.
  • Some examples of dark comedies done right are Beetlejuice, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and even American Psycho.
  • Amanda is an Italian dark comedy-drama that explores themes of loneliness and dissatisfaction in a wealthy world.


Dark comedy is an interesting subgenre as it’s making light of a tragedy, but it can be challenging to get right. You have to find just the right balance of humor and seriousness. If something earnest is downplayed with comedy, that sincere moment is taken as a poorly told joke. But you also can’t have these elevated, gravity-defying moments of negativity without some sort of comic relief to keep us on the ground. Some good examples of dark comedy done right are titles like Beetlejuice, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, South Park, and even American Psycho.

That does not mean that these are the absolute best or perfect examples. South Park tends to take dark comedy too far sometimes, to the point that it’s more concerning or just downright awful. However, one dark comedy film earned its rightful spot in the subgenre last year. And yet, very few people have talked about this movie since its release. Well, here is the film that no one saw coming in 2023 and will be streaming soon. The movie is titled Amanda, but the overall plot will leave you feeling for the protagonist of the same name.


What Is Amanda?

Amanda is an Italian dark comedy-drama that acts as a coming-of-age story. The film originally premiered in the Horizons Extra section of the 79th Venice Film Festival, then screened at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, and was finally released in theaters in Italy in October 2022. In the US, Amanda was released in select theaters as a limited release on July 7, 2023.

The film follows a 24-year-old woman named Amanda (Benedetta Porcaroli), who returns to her dysfunctional family home after studying abroad. She feels lost and aimless when she returns. She lives an isolated life with no friends of her own despite the desire to have them. With her mom’s influence, Amanda reunites with her old childhood friend, Rebecca (Galatea Bellugi), and convinces her they are still best friends.

Amanda is director and writer Carolina Cavalli’s debut film. In the past, Cavalli wrote for the 2023 black-and-white drama film Fremont, described as “An exquisite meditation on the sometimes-difficult process of moving forward,” which starred Anaita Wali Zada and Jeremy Allen White and was directed by Babak Jalali. Both films are similar in that they are both dramas, but the comedic aspect is dry humor. While some viewers may find this kind of comedy, well, dry, others clearly find the wit of deadpan humor entertaining.

This dry humor also highlights the overall themes that center on Amanda as a film and Amanda as a character. She’s lonely inside and outside of her family, often seen standing on the sidelines and watching other lonely people like her. She seems unbothered about it all on the surface, but that is just a mask to fool even herself.

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What Does Amanda Offer?

Amanda is “a smart, stylish debut” (per The New York Times) for Cavalli. It’s a fascinating character study about Amanda and what it’s like to be anti-social and pressured into having social interactions with others. She is a sarcastic, awkward, socially anxious young adult who comes off as self-absorbed. She’s not afraid to be weird about situations to see the outcome; in some cases, those outcomes are pretty funny. Even though her childhood friend Rebecca is even more of a social outcast than she is, Amanda is still the one to reach out and wants to reignite their friendship.

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The Irish Times describes this film best as “a riot of zingers and hilarious situations underpinned by poignant disaffection, loneliness, and possible personality disorder. The quarter-life crisis has seldom been so entertaining”. The film delves deep into not only personal issues for the characters (reclusiveness, social anxiety, loneliness, etc.) but also explores the downsides of having wealth. Amanda and her family seem to disassociate from one another, especially in scenes where they gather around the large family table for meals, yet they all act like total strangers. Amanda is a story of dissatisfaction and solitude in a rich world, and Amanda has to discover what her purpose is through means she never would have thought possible.

Amanda is the perfect coming-of-age dark comedy-drama for your January 2024 roster. It had its limited run in theaters, but even then, Rotten Tomatoes deemed the film “certified fresh” with a 95% Tomatometer. Check out the trailer for yourself, and you’ll see just how dark, witty, and charming Amanda is. You can stream Amanda on the Criterion Channel on Jan. 23, 2024.

Stream on the Criterion Channel

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