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I saw the trailer of the movie a few weeks before it was at the cinema
during a vacation that I spend in Napels where the movie has been made:
I was captured immediately and I understood pretty soon that Sorrentino
is a talent director. He is able to draw the parallel lives of two men
that got the same name different lives and morals but tied here and
there by something magic in the frames in their destiny.
ANTONIO PISAPIA and ANTONIO PISAPIA will cross their roads in the time of a sad glimpse but sufficient to share their common sadness.
In the beginning we see the success for both: one is an expert not too much young soccer player next to the retire but designated for a sure trainer career, the other one a pop romantic singer too much sure of himself but with a awful memory hidden inside. The unforgiven blade of the destiny is around the corner and in a blink will hit their lives changing the happiness around into the deep decadence: an heavy injury playing a training match organised by managers the players of his own club after a rifuse to play a connected match and a press-sex-scandal whirpool . No return for them but "One Man Up" of two will be able with an extreme gesture to revenge the weaker, the one not able to contest the adversity.
The performances of Toni Servillo and Andrea Renzi (the singer and the player )are terrific.
.....if you find the way to see it.. not to be missed!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a somewhat abstract movie. Its basic idea is that two very
different men, a coke-addict crooner and a failed football coach, have
the same name, Antonio Pisapia. It might be a coincidence, but their
lives are almost symmetrical: both try to get back to fame and success
(the singer was a star until a sexual scandal and the abuse of cocaine
made him disreputable - this may seem unrealistic today, but the story
is set in the Italian 1980s, when you still could not do everything; as
for the coach, he was a brilliant and clever player but his teammates
broke his knee during a training because he didn't want to fix a
match). Both characters have a past they regret, and are unable to
build the future they wish. Both have problems in their personal
relations. Both are talented, but live in a place and a time where
nobody cares about talent. Both are surrounded by cynical people who do
not respect integrity, seriousness, passion, personality.
However, the stories of the two men will cross in the end, when Pisapia the coach commits suicide, having understood he is never going to get a team to train, and Pisapia the singer takes revenge by shooting the owner of the football team which refused to hire the coach. I can't say that the ending is fully persuasive: it looks like something put there to connect the two independent plots of the movie, which might have stayed independent, or should have been connected in a more meaningful way. However, the two actors (Andrea Renzi, mostly a theater actor, and Toni Servillo) deliver two good performance, and the world they live in is well rendered by Sorrentino. It may sometime remind of the movies Fassbinder was making in the 1970s, with a similar atmosphere of disaffection and human coldness.
Paolo Sorrentino has become one of the few major writer/director talents from Italy. Whether you will like his movies will depend on your preference for Italy's culture and way of storytelling, in Sorrentino's case a rather intellectualized, stylized approach to drawing his characters, often at the expense of believability of plot or his progenitor's actions. Having said that, this holds especially true for this early work of his from '01, loosely drawn on two figures from Italian public life of the 80's - a budding soccer player and a pop star in the Adriano Celentano vein. Without giving away any of the details, suffice to say that this film is one of Sorrentino's lesser efforts, especially the ending which doesn't make much sense.
Having watched other films by Paolo Sorrentino, I was expecting the same refined film-making plus the usual original subject and convincing acting. While the last is certainly present in L'uomo in più (thank mostly to Toni Servillo), I found the whole plot quite disappointing and a rather standard cinematography. Additionally, a few characters are roughly sketched: they are presented during the plot but disappear a few scenes later. Add a general lack of rhythm and a banal intertwining between football and music, full of clichés (the bad manager surrounded by naked girls, the old football manager training youngster near the motorway, just to name a few) and you have a movie that is both too short and too slow at the same time. Watch the other titles by Sorrentino, they're by far better than this.
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