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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Reading the earlier reviews I am struck by what seems to be the lack of understanding as to what this film is really about. The main plot involving the nightmarish result of a divorce is both a good example and a horrible warning of what happens when people feel they have nothing left to lose. We have seen how violence infects the divorce process with horrendous results. The issue we have to address is how do we make this painful process less about winners and losers and find a more even handed approach to helping families in transition. Every member of the family law bar should see this film; because we are also part of the problem. The performances were remarkable esp. the wife and the story troubling and well crafted.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(brief report from the Toronto International Film Festival)
I picked this film in the TIFF because of another of Director Ozpetak's work "Facing Window" (2003) which I enjoyed tremendously. Although I still like "Window" a little better, "A perfect day" is an entirely satisfying cinematic experience. Similar to "Window", "Perfect Day" is ordinary stories handled with deftly hands by Ozpetak. It is however darker and tends somewhat towards melodramatic, lacking some of the easy grace of "Window".
Again similar to "Window", "Perfect day" runs two parallel plots, this time both on dysfunctional families. The main plot surrounds a divorced couple Emma and Antonio with a teenage daughter and a grad-school son, both wanting to see their parents back together. Emma, however, firmly believes that what is over is over, despite her ex-husband's persistent plead. Living with her mother now, she firmly forbids the kids to visit their father who now lives alone in their old home. Loosely connected to the main story, the sub-plot tells the story of another family, headed by Antonio's boss (Antonio is a bodyguard), an ambitious politician whose invalid wife had committed suicide. His young and beautiful second wife then falls in love with his own son.
The simple description above gives only a small glimpse into the proliferation of characters close to a dozen including the more important of the support cast. The entire story happens within 24 hours, as the somewhat sarcastic title intimates. With a stead and deftly hand, Ozpetak keeps the complex events and characters in full rein. Character development of the two key protagonists is handled skillfully, allowing the audience to explore the reasons for the failed relationship and at the same time leaving room for them to arrive at their own conclusion. The "tour de force" (quoting from TIFF's literature on the film) ending is somewhat melodramatic but this could be a matter of individual taste. Personally, I prefer the more subtle and reflective style of "Facing window".
Do you want to see an agreeable easy movie, without scenes able to sadden you and make you trouble? Well, you wrong title. One of the most controversial movie of all times, setting aside certain remarks that advocate it's too far from the novel or it's better or worse than it: I affirm the title gets over the novel; to the contrary, we could have a narrow outlook on things. Ozpetek proposes you a plot of lives in which each character has a fundamental part for a correct understanding: by the way the movie tells about only a history: that of Emma, who lives an unquiet life but something is going to change: she is going to spend "a perfect day", although several problems lied to work, to her love-story and her children. But she's going to realize that destiny claim a considerable wage in exchange for a "fee Saturday"... Let me say it: it's a perfect plot: to the end everything will be clean; you only must pay attention to the order of events, and forget to see a comedy, that's obvious!
excerpt, full review at my location - Based on Italian writer Melania
Mazzucco's popular novel of the same title, A Perfect Day is a powerful
feature from distinguished director Ferzan Ozpetek. The film features a
strong ensemble cast spread across several narrative threads, including
a 2008 Venice Film Festival Best Actress winning turn by Isabella
With some fine central performances from Valerio Mastandrea and the award- winning Isabella Ferrari, Ferzan Ozpetek's film adaptation of A Perfect Day is an interesting if overambitious film that just doesn't quite work as a whole. Redundant subplots and a relentlessly bleak outlook make this a tough watch even during its most interesting central focus of a family in meltdown.
There are a few films that focus on a downwards slide to a final
situation (an example would be Requiem for a Dream). A Perfact Day
studies a downward slide while styled in the modern way, with character
stories cleverly knotted together.
I picked this film more or less at random in the London Film Festival. And the first question to the director was "what does this add to the debate?" I'm not sure a film has to contribute anything for a given debate, but I understand the question.
As a study in emotion, this film does work. But it doesn't reach out anywhere else. There is little that is fully original, and so one is left with a slice of life for an Italian family, some political implications and a mysterious woman.
Melania Mazzucco has stated the title of her novel A Perfect Day is a
deliberate reference to Lou Reed's famous song, which moviegoers might
remember from the overdose scene in Trainspotting. Given such a
cinematic precedent, maybe it's an indication of the state of mind one
should be experiencing in order to enjoy Ferzan Ozpetek's insipid
adaptation of Mazzucco's book.
As the title suggests, the story spans 24 hours, in an unidentified neighborhood in Rome. This is where Emma Buonocore (Isabella Ferrari) lives with her two children, and it's also the place where her ex husband Antonio (Valerio Mastandrea) comes every night to spy on her, peeping tom-style. Emma has a hard time raising the kids on her own, and on that particular day her universe falls apart when she loses her part-time job and Antonio, mad with jealousy (ironic, since his last name means "good heart"), goes to extreme lengths to convince her they should get back together.
Saying anything else about the plot isn't necessary because a) the outcome is ridiculously predictable, and b) there isn't really much of a plot to discuss in the first place. A Perfect Day looks less like a movie than it does a mediocre episode of a TV series, complete with basic storytelling, pointless "guest appearances" (Angela Finocchiaro, who pops up in three scenes for almost no reason at all) and god-awful characterizations. In what sane world does a six-year old talk like a middle-aged French philosopher?
Such blandness (and that's the most polite word I could think of) is a bit of a surprise coming from Ozpetek, who used to make carefully crafted character studies (not counting the misstep that was Sacred Heart). One of his merits has always been getting flesh-and-blood performances from his actors, whereas this time no one gets even close to anything vaguely resembling proper acting. Ferrari and Mastandrea try their best, but they look like little more than caricatures of the much more intense double act of Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris (a comparison that is practically dictated by a squalid scene of attempted rape and Mastandrea's laughable comments about sodomy). Everyone else is utterly lifeless from start to finish, even respected actresses like Stefania Sandrelli and Monica Guerritore (whose role was changed from the book because the original version, a gay male teacher, was deemed "too clichéd" for an Ozpetek film). The only bit of the movie that can be described as mildly enjoyable is when the children watch the Italian version of March of the Penguins, narrated by Fiorello: some quality dialogue at last!
Okay, maybe that was too harsh: there is also a splendid tracking shot that opens the film and was meant to foreshadow the sombre atmosphere of the story. Sadly, that didn't work out as planned, and so we are left with nothing but (pardon the pun) a perfect failure.
The film is a disaster - appalling acting, bad editing, inadequate background music, bad cinematography. Irrelevant scenes continuously appear since the very beginning of the film. The actors and actresses in the film fail to show any expression on their faces and let alone deliver any emotions. Those handsome faces accompanying with intolerably appalling acting make the audience wonder whether Italian talents have all been replaced with superficial snobs. It is hard to see how different figures in the film are linked - the existence of the teacher is simply unnecessary. It would be a much more consistent and convincing piece had the director focused on the main storyline. The film is intolerably awful - so much so that it is worse than any TV soap operas. Its nomination for the Venice Film Festival is definitely a joke. Given the quality of F. Ozpetek's work for the past three years, I am certainly not going to see any films from him in the future. What a catastrophe!
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