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Libero De Rienzo
A brilliant recent graduate struggles to find work. After falling into a babysitting job, she is introduced by the child's mother to the world of the international call center, its employees, and the fast pace that drives them.
Alice and Mattia, two exceptional personalities but inadequate, synthesis of two lives in pain, two special people who travel on the same track, but are two worlds imploded, unable to open up to the world. One fully understands the feelings of the other, but is never able to express them out loud, in short, they are two prime numbers. Prime numbers are divisible only by 1 and themselves. Written by
In which we can, perhaps, recognize part of our solitary selves as we progress in life.
The title of this movie was my prime stimulus to watch it: not only to deconstruct the meaning but also because a movie about math - apparently - might provide a unique filmic experience, I thought. Well ... I'm correct about the first, but not the second.
Happily for viewers, it's not all about math. But the story is about a young man who is, at an early age, recognized as a math genius. We follow him, Mattia (Luca Marinelli) and his childhood companion, Alice (Alba Rohrwacher), as they both grow up, through their teen years and on to adulthood. Both are introverted to the point of almost total withdrawal; both indulge in aberrant behaviors; both experience intense personal and psychic pain early in life which heightens their isolation; but, also, both recognize each other for what they are - primal individuals unable to communicate according to society's dictates.
For the next twenty plus years, they each try to establish a lasting relationship with each other. During the course of that time, they briefly meet, in person, perhaps on five or six occasions; at the end of the story, Alice sends a short, urgent letter, to which Mattia responds in person. At all other times, we see their lives unfold individually as they each grapple with the many obnoxious (or helpful) people who intrude upon their solitary existences.
Some viewers might find the plot too slow; indeed, a few sets and scenes do include long static shots, particularly facial close-ups. What's more annoying, though, is the elliptical structure of the story as it cuts between three different time periods; which I'm sure will tend to confuse some or even many viewers. Having read the novel - brilliant writing which worked exceedingly well as a linear narrative - I'm still puzzled why the director decided upon disjointed flashbacks. Visually, it doesn't work well at all; frankly, it lessens the dramatic tension, especially when compared with the novel.
My overarching criticism, however, concerns the ending, the resolution to Mattia's and Alice's solitary anguish. In the novel, it ends realistically and appropriately, I thought. This movie's end is, unfortunately, hopelessly Hollywood.
The production is competent, although I think the music is too loud at times. The cast and acting are fine. In view of my above comments, though, my recommendation is: read the novel, forget the movie. Give it 5 out of 10, barely.
May 2nd, 2016
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