A long love story, seen through the memories of one young couple: recollections altered by moods, their different perspectives, and time itself. The journey through the years of two individuals, united, divided, happy, unhappy, deeply in love, or in love with others, in a single stream of emotions and shades of feeling.Written by
Hugo Van Herpe
It has been nine years since Valerio Mieli's last film "Ten Winters" ("Dieci Inverni"), and his latest film "Ricordi?" is evidence of how his artistic maturity has developed over this period, for in this film he has created a work of great depth. Mieli is not only the director of the film but also the author of the story and in this work he returns to a number of themes which are particularly dear to him: the theme of the passing of time, the idea of windows of recollection which open for a few instants on specific periods in the past, acknowledgement of the importance of the past in order to be able to live in the present.
In this second film, which is technically more complex than his previous film, there are a number of philosophical ideas interwoven in a story which would otherwise be the straightforward tale of two ordinary people, and it is this very aspect which brings the characters to life.
However, it is not the basic love story which is important in this film; it could have been made around any other sort of story, because the underlying theme which Mieli wanted to bring out is the much deeper idea of how peoples' lives continue through their memories and recollections of the past. The recollection of the past is a theme which is frequently found in philosophy and in literature, in many important works, but it is a difficult theme to transpose into the medium of film. Mieli succeeds in capturing the transient nature of recollections of the past with a very original cinematographic technique, based on continuous flashbacks and flashforwards, often just a few seconds long, but without interrupting the fluidity of the underlying story itself.
The sound track chosen by Mieli, which includes music from Bach to Tchaikovsky, reinforces the continuous changes in mood and atmosphere of the film.
Mieli's previous film was structured along parallel tracks; his artistic maturity has enabled his technique to develop into a more deep and complex structure by exploring two apparently normal lives using the recollections of the two main characters of past events. His thoughtful treatment of various past episodes in their lives and of their different recollections of the same events enables him to capture details of the emotions of the two main characters and to bring them to life in the film. In carrying out this process his direction is impeccable, worthy of the great masters of cinema.
In "Ricordi?" Mieli explores very effectively the theme of the passage of time: in particular he shows us how our recollections of the past are inevitably modified by the passage of time, not only how the same event can be perceived differently in the recollection of two different people but also how the recollection of the same person can change over time.
Valerio Mieli has also included a number of autobiographical elements in the film, weaving them into the story, like for example his love of the author Italo Calvino.
The excellent choice of actors for the two leading characters was decisive in rendering the love story effective. The girl (the spectators of the film never learn the names of the two leading characters) gradually changes character during the film, passing from youthful optimism to subdued pessimism: she progressively loses her wide smile that we see the beginning. An additional touch comes from the change in her costumes during the course of the film from brightly coloured clothes to more subdued tones towards the end. Her excellent interpretational skills contribute to the credibility of the character and the gradual toning down of her initial optimism is placed in direct contrast with the growing desire of her partner to perceive his own recollections of the past in a less pessimistic light.
Valerio Mieli shows us how a recollection of the past is by definition itself fixed in the past, but can nevertheless be recalled, can change and evolve over time, as he himself has evolved in the course of this film. It is certainly not easy to use a normal story and to transform it into one of profound significance. He takes specific moments of the leading characters lives, brief flashes which may last maybe only a few instants. In Valerio Mieli's film these brief moments become special because they cannot be repeated in time. With the passage of time, the various situations which the characters recall could of course occur again, but these repetitions will never be the same as the recollection of the original event. This is the message that the film wants to transmit to us, and the key to the whole story is a reflection on the effects of the passage of time. Valerio Mieli's very original and profound reflection on the subject succeeds in distinguishing him from many other talented contemporary film directors.
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