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Long-time friends: Davide, a successful novelist, lives with Lorenzo, who's everyone's favorite; Antonio and Angelique, married with two children; Neval, a voluble Turk, and her compliant husband; Sergio, an aging gay man; and, Roberta, beautiful, heavily into drugs. They have secrets: an affair, a business venture. Then, tragedy strikes, and the group pulls together for one of their own, who may not want their intersession. Are there limits to the power of friendship? Written by
Ferzan Ozpetek understands as well as any writer/director today the concept and attending importance of Extended Family. Much as he spoke about the importance of friends who are often more supportive than genetic family in his beautiful film HIS SECRET LIFE, he explores a similar topic in his latest exceptional film SATURNO CONTRO (SATURN IN OPPOSITION). Ozpetek and his co-writer Gianni Romoli have created a story about camaraderie, celebration, shared loss, consolation, and healing among a rather disparate group of Romans that manages to not only underscore our human needs, but also demonstrates how nearly insurmountable hurdles can be managed by the kindness and understanding of true friends.
Davide (Pierfrancesco Favino) is a much admired writer who lives with his artist partner Lorenzo (Luca Argentero) in a healthy, loving relationship. Davide has many admirers who wish to fall under his influence as a writer and Lorenzo likewise has many friends who are devoted to him. These friends gather at the home of Davide and Lorenzo for meals, parties and celebrations - a place where each of the friends finds compassion for whatever is nibbling away at their happiness. Davide's close friend Antonio (Stefano Accorsi) is married to the beautiful Angelica (Margherita Buy) who is writing a book about smoking and is not aware that her husband is having an affair with florist Laura (Isabella Ferrari) until a mutual friend, translator Neval (Serra Yilmaz) - caring for both friends' concerns - shares the information. The possible disastrous discovery is overshadowed by the sudden subarachnoid hemorrhage suffered by Lorenzo during a communal meal. Each of the friends' lives are halted while they gather at the hospital awaiting the inevitable death of their friend - each with open arms of support for Davide and each other as they find their way through dealing with the circle of life. The story places Lorenzo's tragedy near the beginning of the film: the resolution and coping of the large number of this extended family form the message and the sidebars that explore the sanctity of friendship and caring. There are myriad moments of rare beauty in this little film, moments that include the tenderness of Lorenzo's father's acceptance of Davide's relationship to his son as the funeral is passing, the wordless mending that the death of a friend brings to the dissolving marriage of Angelica and Antonio, and many others.
This is a beautifully photographed film (Gian Filippo Corticelli) and one with a musical score (Giovanni Pellino 'Neffa') that is so subtle that it supports without distraction (much like the presence of Extended Families!). The acting is of the highest quality from some of Italy's finest actors. We can only hope that Ferzan Oztepek continues to create meaningful films such as this for a world that too often settles for finding solace as well as happiness from artificial sources outside the circle of human relationships. In Italian with subtitles. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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