Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
Fosco Giachetti finds marriage to Mariella Lotti a rocky road
"Fari nella nebbia" means "Headlights in the Fog". This refers physically to the oil trucks that the men drive dangerously through patches of fog in several parts of the picture. Metaphorically, it refers perhaps to the main characters who work their way through the mists of their marriage, also subjected to dangers, and with the imperfect light of their love and emotions struggle to survive a possible breakup.
But don't get the idea that the film is a static depiction of family life or a kind of soap opera. Far from it. A lot of the film's action occurs in the truck terminal and on the road, in the hangouts of the truckers, in cafes, in a dance hall, in the work places as well as the apartments where people live. This and the realism of the people in the story make it an early neo-realist picture.
The photography has some fine dark and shadowy scenes, especially at the beginning and at the end, when it gets most noirish.
The story is uncomplicated. Giachetti is a truck driver, a working man for a company, who is married to blonde Lotti. She wants action, not a home life. They separate. Another woman, dark-haired Luisa Ferida, makes a play for Giachetti who gives in and starts living with her. She really likes to play around and after awhile tires of Giachetti and being alone while he works. She finds another man, a buddy of his. Lotti by this time, working with a family friend and helping her out, misses Giachetti and has discovered she has a domestic streak.
While all of this doesn't sound too exciting, the director and cast bring it fully to life. The characters they play come across as totally real. They think intelligently and plan, but at the same time they have appetites, blind spots, and strong emotional tugs. They don't always know what's going on or what others are doing. Their interactions are the furthest thing from soap opera, and this in part has to do with the intensity of the acting which brings out their underlying feelings through their eyes and expressions, but without undue body language, histrionics, and talk. The very last scene in particular is extremely effective with very little dialog simply by showing the actors and their bits of action.
I recognized Giachetti from other movies I've seen him in, such as "We the Living" from 1941. He's a serious, mature and intense kind of actor, with a handsome rugged face. He looks at other people hard. Both Lotti and Ferida are accomplished actresses here. One of the clear strengths of Italian cinema has been the ability of players like these to convey emotions, and another is that this combined with the stories makes you feel. I would not say that this film has that strong of an emotional impact as some others. It's a little bit more stand-offish and distant from the viewers' emotions, and that makes it more like a noir film.
"Fari nella nebbia" is a good solid film, still very watchable after 71 years. That's saying something.
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