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Libero (Along the Ridge) (2006)

Anche libero va bene (original title)
A young father and his two children struggle to find harmony after his wife leaves them for another man.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alessandro Morace ...
...
Renato Benetti
...
Stefania Benetti
Marta Nobili ...
Pietro De Silva ...
Domenico
Roberta Paladini ...
Letizia
Sebastiano Tiraboschi ...
Francesco Benedetto ...
Vincenzo
Roberta Lena ...
Marina
Sebastiano Busirivici ...
Barzelli
Marco Bardi ...
Guglielmo
Greta Alice Gorietti ...
Elena
Francesca Strati ...
Monica
Federico Santolini ...
Claudio
Manuela Occhiuzzi ...
Insegnante di Lettere
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Storyline

Tommi (11) and his slightly older sister Viola live in the city with their father. They cope with being a single parent family until their mother shows up, having disappeared without trace - not for the first time, we soon learn. These are the four protagonists in a bittersweet portrait of their ongoing struggle with love, friendship, puberty and life in general. Written by Swie Tio <sweet_t_prod@hotmail.com>

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5 May 2006 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Libero  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kim Rossi Stuart declared that he didn't want to play a role in this film because he wanted to concentrate on directing. But when the actor who was supposed to play Renato (Sergio Rubini) walked out two weeks before shooting, the producers pressed him to play this role himself. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A line that will make you weep
3 May 2007 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

Italian title: 'Anche libero va bene' ('Sweeper's okay too').

Kim Rossi Stewart is a well known actor in Italy. Recent notable performances: 'Criminal Romance' (2005, Michele Placido), 'The House Keys' (2004. Gianni Ameliio). In this, his superb directorial debut, the subject is childhood and dysfunctional families. It's a difficult one to deal with in a fresh way, perhaps. But the situation of newly free-lancing photographer Renato (Stewart), his 11-year-old son, Tommaso/Tommi (Alessandro Morace), and Tommi's older sister Viola (Marta Nobili) does emerge as different, yet true to life. Tommi, the main character, is a somber boy, shy and quiet, a good swimmer. Viola is the bright light in the house, a cheerful soul. It seems Renato is a single father, and a troubled one. He's a photographer without much work, in financial difficulties, a rageaholic, borderline bipolar, who often screams at the two children over little foul-ups in the house.

Then one day the wife and mother of the family, Stefania (Barbora Bobulova), turns up, tearful, cowed, terrified of Renato's rage. She comes and goes, we learn, remaining, apparently, unable to be faithful to one man and also involved with a rich guy. Renato is very reluctant to take her back. He also inappropriately involves the kids in the decision about this, and lets them hear the foul words he applies to his wife.

As time passes Renato becomes more emotionally stable at home with Stefania around, though he seems unable to cooperate on a job, trying to tell the director to photograph a camel when he needs a shot of a car, then walking off the set, and already having cut off his former employers.

Tommi is the realistic one. He knows Stefania will leave again, and hence finds it hard to give her affection. His freedom is to go up on the roof and look down through a pair of binoculars. This is his refuge. He has a friend now, Antonio, son of rich neighbors. He takes Antonio up to share the roof with him. Tommi dominates the film with his sad eyes in an impassive face. His heart seems to threaten to become frozen, and sometimes when it opens, it quickly shuts again. Despite too much pushing from his father, he still does well in swimming, though it never seems as if he cares. In class he chooses to stay seated next to Claudio, a new boy who has reacted to the trauma of his father's death by becoming mute. Tommi writes "I love you" to a girl he's next to in ceramics class, but when she finds the note, denies that he had anything to do with it.

Stewart gets excellent acting from everyone, most remarkably from young Morace, who doesn't seem "actor-y" at all but completely genuine. The direction in other ways is not as inventive or fresh as it could have been. The camera-work is mechanical in following people around. But the deeply touching story makes that unimportant.

One gets a strongly particular sense of the family here, of its instability and sadness, especially Tommi's; the film seems to have less ability to open itself up to the outside world and show the characters' relationship to it, in spite of scenes at Tommi's class at middle school.

After Ranato's rejection of Tommi for giving up the swim team, a contrast comes when his friend Antonio's father invites him to go fishing, just the two of them, Antionio being in Naples with his grandmother for the day, and Tommi has dinner with Antonio's family to share the fish they catch. This father isn't judgmental but helpful, and the family is a serene and happy one.

As always it is disturbing to see children being subjected to a family life that is only wounding them, and which they will at best survive. Things are particularly bad when Tommi drops out of a swim match and finally declares he doesn't want to swim any more (we know he always preferred to play football). "Who gives a damn!" Renato declares. You;'re no son of mine." What a child needs is first for both parents to be present in their life and second to have unconditional love and support. They often don't get either. 'Along the Ridge' is courageous in showing parents who fail and a child who somehow manages to deal with that.

As things get worse for Renato, Tommi's life takes on a tragic dimension and the film gains some of the resonance of the great Italian neorealist films. Those who've grown up in a dysfunctional family will understand the cold comfort Tommi feels escaping from his father's meltdown on a ski trip with Antonio and his cheerful, decent parents. The title in Italian refers to a reconciliation between Tommi and his dad. He's going to let Tommi play football after all ad the position Tommi favors is midfielder, but dad likes sweeper. "Sweeper's okay too," says Tommi. In context, it's a line that will make you weep.

Shown as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival 2007.


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