In 'Gegen die Wand' Cahit, a 40-something male from Mersin in Turkey has removed everything Turkish from his life. He has become an alcoholic drug addict and at the start of the movie wants... See full summary »
Nicola and Matteo Carati are two brothers of Rome, who live the years from 1966 to 2000 and all the events which have signed this period. They begin their adventure, helping Giorgia, a young girl confined in an asylum. Then, after the flood of Florence, Nicola meets Giulia a talented piano player with a dangerous sympathy for the BR. Matteo, a rebel spirit entered in the police, will find the optimistic photographer Mirella. These four characters and many others will cross the years of terrorism and Tangentopoli. Written by
Originally developed as a miniseries for television. It was then released in cinemas in June 2003 as two three-hour films after the uncut six-hour version had been screened to great acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival. Because of the films's success, it was eventually shown on Italian TV as originally intended, in 4 parts, in November 2003. See more »
Right at the start, after a caption has shown that the film is set in 1966 at the beginning and the main characters are getting into a car, a radio is heard playing the song "Might just take your life" by Deep Purple. This song was released in 1974. See more »
At last: an achievement contemporary Italian cinema can be proud of! Not that the odd decent flick doesn't grace our screens these days; however, when compared to Cinecitta's hey-day between the late 40s and 70s, today's production is scant. The problem essentially is the dire lack of funding and scarce distribution. Most Italian films are either shown in hardly any movie theatres - if any at all - while American blockbusters clog the screens of Italian cinemas up and down the peninsula for months (cliched 1960s terminology such as "cultural imperialism" springs to mind!). It's a familiar story... Then a couple of years ago, Gabriele Muccino's meaningless movies started being hailed as the harbingers of a renaissance. That's when I started to despair for this country's ailing contemporary cultural heritage! Muccino's "L'ultimo bacio" (to be avoided like the plague!) and his latest, "Ricordati di me", are prime examples of Berlusconi-era cinema: pretty-to-look-at but pointless, riddled with stoopid cliches, pre-packed, pre-digested conclusions, conservative, moralistic and misogynistic undertones that pass for brave portrayals of modern Italy (yeah right), hollow cynicism and shallow "portraits" of middle-class malaise that are merely a smug, self-referential celebration of this milieu (Muccino's own). Fortunately, despite his popularity in recent years, an increasing number of intelligent Italians share my views. And by the look of the Roman movie theatres heaving with people when I went to see La meglio gioventu' last week, they also agree that Marco Tullio Giordana's last effort is worth the effort of sitting in a cinema for almost 6 hours! The movie is a mini-series (it will be shown by RAI television in autumn 2003). It was shown at this year's Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section. Now it's shown in two separate, 3-hour screenings in selected movie-theatres around Italy. This may sound like too much to bear even for the most passionate of cinema-goers. But I cannot stress enough how successful the experiment is and how effortless (and pleasant!) the experience. There are almost as many opportunites to develop plot and characters as in a novel, and one leaves the cinema with a feeling of having gotten to know and grown to love the characters over a period of time. The story begins in Rome in 1966 and ends in the present day. Watching it is a wonderful way of getting a feel for Italian history in the last 40 years, though without ever feeling like you're watching a dense, academic "historic" film. Though it encompasses many historic events and nods towards innumerable themes, it is first and foremost about people. An Italian family in Rome - the Carati family - a Roman father, Milanese mother, two brothers and two sisters - are the hub around which other characters rotate. The two Carati brothers, Nicola (played sympathetically by Luigi Lo Cascio, also seen in Giordana's previous film, "I cento passi") and Matteo (the dishy Alessio Boni), are in some ways the main characters. But the spotlight often shines for long spells onto other characters - namely the lovely "psychopath" Giorgia, Red Brigade terrorist Giulia, as well as Mirella, the feisty and beautiful Sicilian photographer (Matteo's almost-love interest!). Then there are innumerable other memorable portraits, all introducing a social theme (such as Nicola's factory-worker friend, made redundant during Fiat's crisis at the start of the 80s, or Matteo's colleague, the working-class policeman, who ends up on a wheelchair after a beating at a political demonstration in the 70s). However, this is never done heavy-handedly and all characters are first and foremost human beings who can be appreciated as individuals transcending their backgrounds or political leanings. What I appreciated most in this movie was the lack of stereotyping. In heavily-politicised Italy, this comes as a breath of fresh air. Thus before being a policeman, Matteo is convincingly portrayed as a cultured and fiercely intelligent man whose emotional repression and desperate need for rules are a tragic consequence of an ancient wound. And the Teutonic-looking Giulia, the terrorist, is multi-faceted and has a believable psychological background which explains (but neither justifies or condemns) her choices. This woman, who abandons her young daughter and loving partner to embrace a life of political extremism, is never portrayed as a villain (this is innovative, considering how harshly "bad" mothers and wives are normally represented in movies!). All actors, with the exception of the wooden and heavy-featured Valentina Carnelutti (she plays the Carati's youngest daughter, Francesca), are excellent. Humorous and deeply touching moments perfectly counterbalance one another in a setting that flits from Rome to Norway to Florence (during the 1966 flood) to Turin (during the student demonstrations of the late 60s and 70s), then to Milan, Sicily and the Tuscan countryside in the present day. Then Norway again, in a beautiful and poetic closing of the circle. Early on in the film, young mental patient Giorgia, whom Matteo is charged with taking for walks while he's still a student, introduces the theme of psychiatry and its evolution from the 60s to the present day. Franco Basaglia, the revolutionary psychiatrist whose humane and futuristic ideas ultimately shut down Italian asylums in 1979, is mentioned later on as Nicola's role-model but the movie is never preachy or self-righteous about this. Again, this complex theme is not imposed upon the viewer in a dry and academic manner, but is interwoven into a compelling and moving subplot which involves both brothers and brings about decisive changes in both their lives. Similarly, the traumatic Mafia killing of the Sicilian judge Giovanni Falcone (early 90s) is evoked as it deserves, but again, never crowds the plot. There is far more that could be said about La meglio gioventu'! But I will give no more away, just a warm recommendation to go and see this accomplished piece of movie-making. The fact it won a Cannes prize makes me more hopeful of its release abroad, especially in the UK, where Italian cinema is direly underrepresented (with the exception of movies that show Italy in a quaint or picturesque light).
149 of 173 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?