Wylie Writes @ Hot Docs 2014: Hitting the Road to Knock Boots

The Special Need (DIR. Carlo Zoratti)


By: Parker Mott

The Special Need is a playful pun on that little itch a late-bloomer might get when he or she starts to become interested in the prospect of love and sexual intimacy.  This ticklish desire is possible as well in those with mental or physical disabilities;  the problem is our educational and even judicial systems do not teach citizens about or condone this issue.  It’s merely swept under the rug of society.

Enea, a 29 year-old Italian man with autism and the immensely endearing subject of The Special Need, really wants to lose his virginity.  He embarks on a road trip across Europe with friends Carlo and Alex to look for that first mate.

What could pass as a Judd Apatow comedy develops into a tender document on the importance of true love and friendship.  Directed by Carlo Zoratti, The Special Need assumes an observational style that eschews the qualities of a traditional documentary.  For one, there is no acknowledgement of the camera;  the film plays like a fly-on-the-wall drama.

While the documentary has an effective set up (I enjoyed the shots of Enea approaching girls in the street with impressive confidence and his opening water gun fight with Carlo), the road trip does meander and the narrative becomes a little stilted.  Some of the lessons are fairly predictable, although Enea’s relationship with an older woman deepens the documentary’s central idea about the definition of human intimacy.

The Special Need at least gives its subject “cinematic treatment” rather than bombarding audiences with a checklist of talking heads.  A sweet and earnest movie, overall.

Catch The Special Need at Toronto’s Hot Docs International Film Festival on:

Sunday, May 4 at 9:00 p.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Click here for more details and to buy tickets.


Parker’s review of The Special Need marks the final post of Wylie Writes’ coverage of this year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival. A big thank-you goes out to Mott and Gesilayefa Azorbo for contributing articles.

Special Thanks:

Obscured Pictures
Stephen Lan
Bryce J Renninger
Metropolis Agencies

Read our coverage of this year’s festival here!

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