There's Still Tomorrow

Italy 2023, 118 mins
Director: Paola Cortellesi

It is more than a little ironic that it took a highly commercial feminist film to outdo Barbie. Paola Cortellesi’s There’s Still Tomorrow was the No. 1 attraction in Italian cinemas last year, grossing more than €36 million (£30 million) at the domestic box office following its release in October and chalking up 5.4 million admissions – which is especially impressive for a film in black and white that imitates the style of post-World War II Italian neorealism.

Esoteric as this might sound, There’s Still Tomorrow has all the ingredients for domestic multiplex appeal. It struck a chord with audiences not just because of its distinctive bravura style and its first-time director’s established popularity as a TV comedian, star and co-writer of domestic comedy hits, including Don’t Stop Me Now (2019) and the two Like a Cat on a Highway films (2017, 2019). The film’s success is also very much to do with its accessible, emotionally involving and surprisingly entertaining treatment of tough subjects – domestic violence and traditional gender roles. Written by the director with regular collaborators Furio Andreotti and Giulia Calenda, Cortellesi’s comedy-drama is set in Rome in 1946, the year that women were first given the vote in Italy. The director herself plays Delia, a woman who copes with the demands of family life while enduring brutal treatment from her domineering, violent husband Ivano (Valerio Mastandrea) by secretly dreaming of possible escape.

The film was shot partly on set at Cinecittà, partly on location in Rome’s Testaccio district, resulting in a vivid recreation of a working-class community centred around a courtyard. Speaking in a video call, Cortellesi says, ‘What every single region in Italy had is that shared way of life – people living in tenements around an internal courtyard, people shouting across balconies, children playing outside, with all the good and bad aspects of that. Because obviously there was no privacy, gossip was rife, everybody knew about everybody else’s lives. In the location where we shot, those houses are occupied, so they’re a sort of time capsule of people still living that type of life.’ With its period detail, local dialect (some of it archaic, specifically of the period) and Davide Leone’s evocative cinematography, There’s Still Tomorrow feels in many ways uncannily close to the golden age of Italian neorealist cinema, as practised by Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica and Luchino Visconti. But Cortellesi insists, ‘I didn’t want to ape a neorealist film – they’re masterpieces, why do that? I wanted to adopt a certain type of language to treat a very contemporary subject and make a contemporary film.’ Even so, she says, ‘Neorealism is part of our DNA as Italians – that language is ingrained in our collective culture, it’s the way we see the past. So when I heard the stories [about the past] from my grandparents, I would translate them in my mind into the visual language of neorealism.’

In fact, There’s Still Tomorrow is neither strictly a forgery of neorealism nor a parody, and nor is it quite the kind of revisionist reappropriation of the sort that Todd Haynes performed on Douglas Sirk in his Far from Heaven (2002). It’s perhaps closer to Michel Hazanavicius’s use of silent cinema in The Artist (2011), an irreverent emulation of a certain film language.

In Cortellesi’s case, the approach is precise but also flexible, able to accommodate melodrama, broad comedy and anachronism (as in the opening credits, set to a number by US indie veterans The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion). Cortellesi also uses hyper-stylisation, as in the elegant but deeply unsettling scene in which Ivano assaults Delia, played out as a balletic dance duet.

In fact, the director points out, her film’s funny moments owe more to a slightly different cycle of films, the commedia all’italiana associated with directors such as Mario Monicelli, Dino Risi and De Sica in his lighter mode. ‘Commedia all’italiana is not the comedy genre per se – it is a way of treating subjects which can be very hard and very serious in a cynical, humorous register,’ she says. ‘Humour is the ideal vehicle to usher the audience into a really tough subject without antagonising them. For instance, as in that scene of violence as choreography, which gives this sense of not witnessing just one moment, but conveying the idea of something happening cyclically.’

Neorealism famously made an impact – in Italy and internationally – because of its emphasis on ordinary people and stories from the street. Cortellesi says that it marked a decisive break both with the propaganda films of the Mussolini era and the glossy lifestyle escapism of the ‘Telefoni Bianchi’ (‘white telephone’) films of the 30s and 40s. ‘Neorealism was a slap in the face. All of a sudden, stories were about real people that the audiences could recognise and identify with,’ she says.

As There’s Still Tomorrow reminds us, many of those stories were about women. ‘When we see [Rossellini’s] Rome, Open City [1945], and Anna Magnani just breaking through that screen, we see a relatable woman and a real woman: she belongs to that strange [Italian] matriarchy, where women were very strong and could deal with the outside world in a very competent way. But then in Visconti’s Bellissima [1951], she plays an exceedingly strong woman who still gets slapped around by her husband. Nevertheless, she is the protagonist of her story. So women are not restricted to being chambermaids or secondary characters, but can hold the screen and be the real protagonist of the movie.’

Delia – played by Cortellesi with a poignant, tender, comic touch – is, the director admits, the exact opposite of Magnani’s toughness. But Magnani remains Cortellesi’s reference point for women in the Italian cinema of the period, along with Giulietta Masina, who co-starred with her in Renato Castellani’s 1959 prison drama Caged (aka … And the Wild, Wild Women). She also mentions Monica Vitti, comedy star Franca Valeri and Sophia Loren; for Cortellesi, Loren represents, among other things, a breakthrough for screen actresses in terms of being able to be both glamorous and comic. A favourite scene of Cortellesi’s comes in Pane, amore e… (Dino Risi, 1955), which starred Loren and De Sica. ‘She’s this perfect goddess, he smells her scent and asks, “What sort of perfume do you use?” And in a perfect Neapolitan working-class accent, she goes, “It’s Lavanda Cannavale” – a really cheap brand. She owns up to the fact that it is exactly what it is. Without giving up on being beautiful and glamorous, she’s able to deliver the punchline and steals the scene completely.’ While Cortellesi’s film is set in a working-class milieu, the oppression faced by Delia was not only a phenomenon in Italy. ‘It was all-pervasive that women were not supposed to voice their opinions. At the time, women belonging to the bourgeoisie, or even the nobility, had a subordinate role with respect to the men in the family.’

At the moment, the director says, the topic is very much in the spotlight, following the death last November of a young woman named Giulia Cecchettin, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend – an event that galvanised national protests and discussions.

Recent reports have estimated that in Italy a femicide happens every 72 hours: by the time her film was released in October, Cortellesi notes, 100 women had already been killed in the country that year. Because of the Cecchettin case, she says, Italians are currently very aware of the issue of gender-based violence; but her film ‘is also paying witness to all of the women that went before, and who were never acknowledged for what they went through’. A film that plays with the past, says Cortellesi, was the ideal way to do that. ‘I wanted to cast a light on what has changed and what has remained the same – and what has remained the same is the toxic mentality that, unfortunately, forces us to still be talking about these subjects.’
Jonathan Romney, Sight and Sound, June 2024

Directed by: Paola Cortellesi
©: Wildside S.R.L., Vision Distribution S.P.A., Be Production S.R.L.
Production Companies: Wildside, Vision Distribution
Produced in association with: Be Production
Executive Producers: Ludovica Rapisarda, Saverio Guarascio, Mandella Quilici, Gianluca Mizzi
Produced by: Mario Gianani, Lorenzo Gangarossa
Unit Production Manager: Roberto Leone
Production Manager: Giorgia Passarelli
Production Accountant: Teresa Di Serio
Location Manager: Diego Morina
Post-production Supervisor: Brando Taccini
1st Assistant Director: Francesca Polic Greco
Casting: Laura Muccino, Sara Casani
Story and Screenplay by: Furio Andreotti, Giulia Calenda, Paola Cortellesi
Director of Photography: Davide Leone
Camera Operator: Andrea Beck Peccoz
Steadicam Operator: Pierluigi Presutti
Special Effects Supervisor: Ermanno Spera
Editing: Valentina Mariani
Art Direction: Paola Comencini
Art Director: Marcoantonio Brandolini
Set Designer: Lorenzo Lasi
Set Decorator: Fiorella Cicolini
Costume Designer: Alberto Moretti
Music by: Lele Marchitelli
Programming, Synth, Guitar, Piano: Lele Marchitelli
Orchestra: Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Marek Stilec
Music Arranger: Lele Marchitelli
Orchestral Arrangements: Marcello Sirignano
Music Consultant: Giorgia Benedetti
Choreographer: Roberta Mastromichele
Production Sound Mixers: Filippo Porcari, Federica Ripani
Re-recording Mixer: Paolo Segat
Supervising Sound Editor: Alessandro Feletti
Sound Effects: Luca Anzellotti
Stunt Co-ordinator: Paolo Antonini
Historical Adviser: Teresa Bertilotti

Paola Cortellesi (Delia)
Valerio Mastandrea (Ivano)
Romana Maggiora Vergano (Marcella)
Giorgio Colangeli (Ottorino)
Emanuela Fanelli (Marisa)
Vinicio Marchioni (Nino)
Paola Tiziana Cruciani (Signora Franca)
Yonv Joseph (William)
Lele Vannoli (Alvaro)
Francesca Centorame (Giulio)
Alessia Barela (Orietta)
Federico Tocci (Mario)
Priscilla Micol Marino (Signora Giovana)
Maria Chiara Orti (Signora Rosa)
Silvia Salvatori (Signora Elvira)
Mattia Baldo (Sergio)
Gianmarco Filippini (Franchino)
Barbara Chiesa (Sister Ada)
Gabriele Paoloca (Peppe)

Italy 2023©
118 mins

A Vue International release

Love Lies Bleeding
From Fri 3 May
Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger
From Fri 10 May
From Fri 10 May
Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry
From Fri 17 May
La chimera
From Fri 24 May
There’s Still Tomorrow C’è ancora domani
From Fri 24 May
The Beast La Bête
From Fri 7 Jun
Àma Gloria
From Fri 14 Jun
Green Border Zielona granica
From Fri 21 Jun
Bye Bye Tiberias Bye Bye Tibériade
From Fri 28 Jun + Q&A on Fri 28 Jun 18:00
Sleep Jam
From Fri 12 Jul
About Dry Grasses Kuru Otlar Üstüne
From Fri 26 Jul

Rome, Open City Roma città aperta
From Fri 17 May
From Fri 28 Jun
The Conversation
From Fri 5 Jul

Never miss an issue with Sight and Sound, the BFI’s internationally renowned film magazine. Subscribe from just £25*
*Price based on a 6-month print subscription (UK only). More info:

Welcome to the home of great film and TV, with three cinemas and a studio, a world-class library, regular exhibitions and a pioneering Mediatheque with 1000s of free titles for you to explore. Browse special-edition merchandise in the BFI Shop.We're also pleased to offer you a unique new space, the BFI Riverfront – with unrivalled riverside views of Waterloo Bridge and beyond, a delicious seasonal menu, plus a stylish balcony bar for cocktails or special events. Come and enjoy a pre-cinema dinner or a drink on the balcony as the sun goes down.

Enjoy a great package of film benefits including priority booking at BFI Southbank and BFI Festivals. Join today at

We are always open online on BFI Player where you can watch the best new, cult & classic cinema on demand. Showcasing hand-picked landmark British and independent titles, films are available to watch in three distinct ways: Subscription, Rentals & Free to view.

See something different today on

Join the BFI mailing list for regular programme updates. Not yet registered? Create a new account at

Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email