by Mario Martone

Usually Italian movies are bad, often horrible, at times disgusting indeed. Who emerges from this slime is habitually the serious, educated, learned professional; but seldom he or she’s really talented, so much so that the typical statement heard after having seen something of thes authors is a distressing introduction: “even though this is an Italian movie…”. Nevertheles the problem is different. The problem is mystification, the will of the Power to smuggle all this as works of art, Cinema with capital c, culture. The intent is a stubborn and uninterrupted work of intellectual debasing, every day more effective, because underpinned by the enthusiastic approval of the audience and of the critics, once left-oriented and now more or less knowingly supporters of the capitalistic ideology. The fact that Nanni Moretti is celebrated on the front pages of the main newspapers on the premiering of an inane and puzzling movie as April is qietly accepted: Nothingness was the rule, now the exception as well.

I’ve deemed necessary this introductory statement to avoid misunderstandings: let it be clear that in this space words, praising or critical, are not going to be wasted.

Martone is a talent and is new rich, felt movie is very interesting because it tells about Theatre, through an operation which is meant to be totally and purely cinematographic. The ungeared, “poor”, apparently careless photography is a stylistic element perfectly functional to told story, as much the style of many a frame and the chosen lenses stress the refusal of the “nice image” for its own sake, of the baroque enrichment, in the – accomplished – endeavour of focusing the attention on the characters and their every-day reality. This doesn’t mean that the images are “ugly”, not at all: some scenes, e.g. the one inside the disco and some moments of the rehearsals are, even on the pure visive side, quite passionate. But the substance is somewhere else, in precision, in control, in curtness of direction, in editing, in camera movements.

I didn’t find convincing the moments in which the players are engaged in a naturalistic way of acting, i.e. the dialogue on the stairway between Anna Bonaiuto and Iaia Forte, a styilistic element not familiar enough to the actors as well as to the author. The problem of acting is something going far beyond Martone’s movie (by the way the guy is working with the best actors ofthe new generation) as it encompasses the whole of Italian cinema: the debate needs a larger context to be dealt within.

About the movie’s subject, Theatre: I’ve appreciated the will to underscore the senselessness, unusefulness and the distance from real life of repertory theatre. But the alternative can’t be only the one proposed by the movie, in short a simple rereading of Greek Tragedy in today’s clothes, with little material, little money and passion galore: a sixties-like avantgarde. The alternative needs something more, maybe something that can’t leave cinema aside. Isn’t this perhaps one of of the reasons why Matone makes movies?

Boris Maccario

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