(Figli di Annibale)

by Davide Ferrario

A good movie? A horrible thing? Innovative? Boring? I’m hardly at ease in describing this latest work by Ferrario, an author that — I have to concede — I don’t particularly appreciate. His previous movie Tutti giù per terra was a rare instance of true cinematographic squalor, a bad script from a bad book, an ill-played and ill-directed movie.

This Figli di Annibale surely redeems the director, because, if anything, it made me snigger in a few parts. The actors are good, maybe the best ones we have in Italy — and this has its weight. The tale is amusing and well constructed after all. But some elements are moot and not convincing at all.

Ferrario, as it seems, is a pioneering author. Already in that offence to cinema that his previous work was, he had tried to accelerate the editing and to risk not-too-conventional frames. But that endeavour was a flop. In his new work the experiments have multiplied, there are odd filters, quickened images, inverted frames.

Some of the tricks work, some simply don’t.

The story. The story is funny, even smart. Obviously the fact that the screenplay was written in collaboration with Diego Abatantuono is in no terms coincidental. But watching the movie, a spook comes to my mind, the ghost of a local horror that has ended up as a persecution: the social topic. Figli di Annibale can’t be dubbed a social movie. It’s a comedy indeed. Nonetheless Silvio Orlando is an unemployed fleeing la Falchera, a district closely associated with social topics for Turin audience. And in his roams with the good Abatantuono, the guy gets in touch with illegal immigrants, that are quoted, framed and smuggled just about anywhere throughout the movie. Not to mention the already overexposed theme of southernism, that, from a value-loaded and just frame of mind, is slowly evolving into a mockery because of people like Ferrario and Amelio. And let’s overlook the soundtrack, that makes an hero out of whoever in Italy dares put any good pop music into a movie, because, from Sud on, exclusively Neapolitan pseudo-hip hop is in. Anything else is old-fashioned.

Let’s don’t degenerate. Let’s go for a conclusion. The conclusion is that Ferrario’s movie is good as a whole, but:

one needs a clear mind to experiment, because everyone is good at new things but hardly every new thing is good;
the social topic is a typical one in Italian culture and it’s right and important indeed. Just one doesn’t live only on that. The movies regarding this country and its pains would be much more appreciated if every once in while, say, a crime story or a science-fiction film would pop up from Italian hands.

Sooner or later, after Ferrario, Amelio, Martone and their likes (not affecting the single value of each of their movies), even the more conservative of academic critics couldn’t help to hear a wee voice saying: “Lethal Weapon, Bruce Willis, Beverly Hills Cop I, II & even III…”

And then, one more time, let’s look at the Americans…

Stefano Cravero

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