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Alex van Warmerdam
Alex van Warmerdam,
Stefano Nardini is still a punk rock musician at the age of 36. One day, as he is in a fix, he decides to leave Rome and to go back to his family in Rimini where he intends to get in touch with his inner self. However, as soon as he is back in the family house, he realizes that he is not the only one to be in trouble. And instead of being taken care of as he expected he sets about taking care of everyone and everything. Written by
I previewed this funny, ironic, human, moving movie at the Venice Film Festival 10 days ago.
I would have never even approached the theatre because, up until then, I had a personal loathing of Valerio Mastandrea, the actor in the protagonist's role. How wrong I was! Mastandrea delivers one of the most refreshing performances I have witnessed in a long time. The whole movie is interpreted by extremely credible actors. The result is impressive.
What pushed me to go and see it were the news in one of the Festival's dailies that, during a previous screening, it had received 23 applauses "open scene", during the projection - a very rare feat. I did not count the bursts of clapping from the audience during my screening, but the impression was that the number 23 was short of the quantity of exceptionally well crafted hilarious, comic, or ironic moments. Many more moments were worth a thought and special recognition to the scenario, directing and acting in the movie.
I simply could not believe that an Italian movie was so well accepted, and, notwithstanding my personal prejudice towards the main character's potential, I went with my partner - whose knowledge of the Italian language definitely undermined the chances for her to enjoy the film's jokes fully - and I saw her laugh just as many times as I did. This movie's antics obviously transcend the "lost in translation" syndrome.
I was so pleased that it was an Italian movie. Especially in comparison with the otherwise poor to appalling showing of other Italian productions.
To me, this is a very probable candidate for a Hollywood remake. Unfortunately, I feel it will not be until then that Italians go see and finally enjoy this story. I really do not know why the team who produced it did not enter it into the competition. I definitely think the jury would have regarded it as worth a mention.
Regarding Mastandrea, I feel I must apologize for my trouncing prejudices. His performance is reminiscent of the best moments of a master actor whose art we prematurely lost - Massimo Troisi - but without the Neapolitan connotation which possibly made his genius less understood in the northern part of Italy, or abroad. He moved me and the audience. He made us all laugh with a gesture, a glance, a detail. A laughter never directed at him or the other characters, but with him at the things and situations that anyone would feel they can share - or indeed do share in our not-so-extraordinary lives. He delivered the most credible "prodigal son" figure I have seen on screen, and did it all with a flair and irony which is unfortunately lost in most of the current production - whether Italian or international.
I loved all the bittersweet touches in the movie, from the speed bumps in front of his house, the speed radar in front of the ice cream parlour and its phenomenal use in the movie, up to the suspended ending which leaves every spectator with a free choice in themselves about how this story should end.
Maybe it is too early to call this "genius", but its simplicity and the directness with which this movie speaks to us is definitely very close to it. I hope that the "serious" critics do not oppose and that this movie can represent a bit of my country, a bit of the life of a "regular guy's life" of the 21st century in that strange "boot" of a nation, to other Film Festivals, including Academy Awards.
Go see this movie. It is good for your heart. It is good for your outlook on life. Just one day after seeing it, someone stole my PC. Of course I was not pleased, but "Non pensarci" ("Do not think about it") even provided me with a bit of solace which I sorely needed. Thank you.
PS - A disclaimer: I do not work for the producers, nor have any financial interest in the success of this movie. I just liked it intensely and immensely.
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