Garrone's magical movie opens with bows to two great scenes of Italian cinema: the ornate wedding carriage recalls the child's funeral procession from The Gold of Naples, and the helicopter-borne star of a reality show replays the helicopter ride of Jesus in La Dolce Vita. These images evoke Italy as the longest-running "society of the spectacle": Roman games; Renaissance princes and popes who conned everyone, as Machiavelli says; the splendors of the Counter-Reformation Church; and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi with the sun in his pocket-"il sole in tasca."
Luciano--fish monger, petty con artist, and pater familias--longs to be cast in a reality show called Big Brother. His quest becomes increasingly obsessive and fantasmagoric, and his extended family shifts from humorous support to escalating concern. Will his dream come true?
Aniello Arena in the part of Luciano is terrific and will capture your heart; he has a surprising and poignant story of his own, which you can check online for yourselves. Garrone is a master of production design, creating exuberant post-modern sets in which decaying Neapolitan palazzi mingle with malls and water slides. This movie is perhaps not for everyone-only for those prepared to enter a world that is theatrical, flamboyant, sentimental, and ironic--one that calls for a sense of humor and a big heart.