Tag Archives: Italian cinema

Il Capitale Umano

capitale-umano

Director: Paolo Virzì; Main Cast: Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Matilde Gioli, Valeria Bruni TedeschiGuglielmo PinelliFabrizio GifuniValeria GolinoLuigi Lo Cascio;

Stark and unapologetic portrayal of Italian middle and upper class through the story of two families: the Ossola and the Bernaschi, their fortunes collide after a terrible accident on a night before Christmas. The film has a Rashomon’s structure with: a short prologue showing a cyclist being run off the road by a dark SUV late at night, the previous six months leading to the night in question told by the point of view of three characters and an epilogue. Firstly the audience meets Dino Ossola (Bentivoglio), he is a small time real estate agent, his business is in crisis but he wants to make the big bucks no matter what. As it happens his teenager daughter Serena (Gioli) and Massimiliano Bernaschi (Pinelli) both attends a posh private school and are dating, perfect way for Dino to insinuate himself into the life of powerful financial banker Giovanni Bernaschi (Gifuni) and get involved in high risk but highly rewarding investments. He lies and cheats to try and get what he wants, not caring that he’s risking his children’s future. As time goes by and the financial crisis tightens its grip, things start to look grim for Dino and the ones closest to him are none the wiser: his second wife is too involved with her work as psychologist for troubled kids and his daughter has her own problems to deal with. Cue to Carla Bernaschi (Bruni Tedeschi), once an actress, she married up and lives now a cushy life among the well-to-dos, busing herself with shopping. Her life seems rather aimless until she finds a new interest: save the local theatre from being converted into condos. After getting the money from her husband, she organises the renovation and put together an artistic committee that will manage the activities of the theatre. Carla pours herself into the work and makes a tight connection with Donato (Lo Cascio) since Giovanni is too busy and worried about his business and her son too self-absorbed. The last charter is Serena’s point of view, it sheds light on a few tricky details of the story and makes it all clear about what really happens the night of the accident. I don’t want to give away the ending so I’ll just say that she ends up being the strongest character, more determined and selfless than the rest. Although adapted from a an American novel, Paolo Virzi manages to give a scary picture of the opulent and self-serving upper-middle class that lives in the small towns north of Milan, with a sharp eyes for details and social nuances. The film keeps the viewer engaged and interested to the very end, however it does leave a bitter aftertaste and a gloomy outlook of Italy nowadays, perfectly exemplified by Carla’s last line: “You bet on the downfall of this country and you won”. The cast is spectacular: from Fabrizio Bentivoglio’s rendering of Dino, unctuous, mellifluous and down right repellent to Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s pitch perfect interpretation of Carla, so lackadaisical and passive but ready to do what is necessary even if it’s despicable. Special mention to Matilde Gioli, her Serena is impressive and very relatable. Provocative and compelling —9/10

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Il Giovane Favoloso

il-giovane-favoloso

 

Director: Mario Martone; Main Cast: Elio Germano, Michele RiondinoMassimo PopolizioIsabella RagoneseAnna MouglalisEdoardo NatoliValerio Binasco;

The life and struggles of Giacomo Leopardi, Italian poet and philosopher of the early 19th century. We follow Giacomo (Germano) from his early, intense studies in his childhood’s home in Recanati, under the tutelage of priests and rigidly supervised by his father Montaldo (Popolizio), reactionary and narrow minded, to the time he spent in Florence, Rome and Naples, where he met (and established few life-long friendships) with historians, classicists, poets and intellectuals. His youth in Recanati, although plagued by both physical and emotional ailments, is sweetened by the presence of his younger siblings Carlo (Natoli) and Paolina (Ragonese), playmates and allies who lighten the burden of suffocating and controlling parents. The fire of rebellion is ignited by the visit of Pietro Giordano (Binasco), a classicist, with whom Giacomo has been exchanging letters over the years, keeping alive their friendship and fruitful collaboration. After a failed attempt to escape his stifling, oppressing home, it will take Giacomo a few more years to finally be free to roam the world (well, just Italy, as it turns out). The story moves then to the final years of Giacomo’s life. We find him in Florence, living with his good friend Antonio Ranieri (Riondino), writer and free-thinker exiled from his native Naples for his political views. Antonio is quite the opposite of Giacomo: charming and outgoing, at ease in social gatherings and with the ladies. Giacomo’s inner pain and his deteriorating health are the roots of his pessimistic view of the world that set him apart from his contemporaries. He is criticised and shunned by other intellectuals, not only in Florence but also in Rome and Naples, where the two friends moved, in an attempt at finding a more suitable environment for the fragile poet. One flaw of the film is the lack of details about the complex political situation in Italy at the time, which was entwined with the literary world and a key element in Leopardi’s life. Throughout the film there are explicit and implicit references to his poems and other writings which, although very beautiful, might not be fully appreciated by viewers unfamiliar with his work. Elio Germano gives a spellbinding performance as the sickly but brilliant poet and Michele Riondino is quite effective as the roguishly charming but loyal friend. The sure hand of Mario Martone at the helm, the supporting cast, the beautiful photography and production design contribute as well to make this film a little gem. Enchanting —7.5/10

 

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