L’Arte della Felicità

Director: Alessandro Rak, Main Cast (voices): Leandro AmatoJun IchikawaRenato CarpentieriNando Paone;


Sergio is a taxi driver in a, surprisingly, gloomy and rainy Naples (it seems Milan in November, if it wasn’t for the huge piles of trash laying around). He is mourning his brother Alfredo, who has recently died after spending the last ten years as a buddhist monk. As more often than not, grief brings along anger and self-introspection and the viewer goes on this journey, both psychological and physical (since a lot of the film take place on a taxi), with Sergio. Intertwined with his story are the snippets of his fares’ lives, that are instrumental in enriching the tale and in helping Sergio understand better his feelings. In the background the audience catches glimpses of Naples and its inhabitants, nice snapshots of ordinary Italian lives: resigned, fatalistic and vexed. The viewer finds out more about the two brothers and their relationship through flashbacks: how they used to be a jazz duo but never too successful, how Alfredo left for Tibet to become a monk and how, as a consequence, Sergio quit playing and got the taxi license (and the taxi) from their uncle Luciano (a rather colourful guy whom the audience get to meet). Fundamental to Sergio’s trip down memory lane is Antonia, who gets on his taxi very upset and in tears and without a destination in mind. They will tour Naples for a while, going to places that have a particular meaning in Sergio’s life, and also getting to know each other a little more. At the end of the film and of his cathartic, inner voyage, Sergio does attain a relative balance and accepts the pain of the loss, reaching the only possible conclusion: it doesn’t go away, one learns to make room for it and live on. This film is quite an achievement, not only it has been made by an all-Italian crew (direction, production, script, music, etc.), it is also an animation feature for adults which I must say it’s a first for Italy. The drawing style and animation are distinctive and sleek, along with a stunning soundtrack that matches perfectly the tone of the story and the moods of the main character. It might be difficult to watch it, no DVD out yet and I saw it at a film festival, but I strongly recommend it. Engaging and poetic —9/10

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Filed under Animation, Seen at the cinema

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