This stylish Italian film begins with a scene that the movie will orbit around until the end credits. After this scene results in an accident, the fate of the victim unknown, we are immediately taken back to shortly before the accident occurs. The film presents itself in four chapters, the first three all running parallel to one another and all leading to this inevitable accident. These opening three chapters closely follow three characters of the film. This decision isn’t easy, as almost all the main characters could have been followed given the way this movie operates and the fully developed characters that populate it. Smartly, this film picks three very different characters: Firstly we follow a lower/middle class real estate agent, desperate for some cash and willing to do anything for it, the next chapter follows an upper-class wife who is sick of her husband’s cold manner and constant business interruptions, and finally the third chapter tails the daughter of the afore-mentioned real-estate agent, whose only connection to the upper-class family is that his daughter and their son are dating. This provides the only real connection between the two families, as they could not be more different, and the young relationship bringing the two families together is the first hint of class-division. Based on an English language book, this story is just as appropriate when transplanted across the seas, dealing with class-division, human relationships and economic situations; the film has plenty going on while the mystery of the accident unfolds.
This theme of class continues as near the start of the movie, Dino compliments and comments on the size of Giovanni’s mansion, as the only reason he is on the property at all is because of his daughter. This class-division is also apparent in the way Giovanni speaks about Dino behind his back, dismissing him as an oaf and inferior. Desperate and naive, Dino is keen to play high stakes investment with his new upper-class buddy, in a vain attempt to bond with someone who he aspires to and looks up to for no real reason other than money. Dino is so convincing, even more so with that Italian flair, that he really beings to life this 40-something year-old who is lost and in denial about some, if not many realities of his life. His character isn’t likeable at all but is extremely well acted and brought to life. His flawed personality is unfortunately realistic and could be many people from any country. In fact all acting was bang on yet seemless; I was engaged instantly by all the different characters. There is so much urgency in the acting of Dino, who the first chapter follows, that it is hard not to be instantly drawn in, subtitles or no! The same applies for the upper-class wife, whose acting is great and whose character is again interesting but flawed. The third character we follow again reveals more about the complex relationships crisscrossing throughout the two families – families that could not be more different in many ways.
The film almost has everything… greed, marital disputes, mental illness, financial desperation, testing relationships, arsehole fathers, all wrapped around a mysterious accident…
Every character has a real personality and is believable, and many of the relationships between them are more subtle comments on modern society – such as Serena’s disdain towards her father as she thinks he is embarrassing her, or her boyfriend’s speechless reaction to his father’s actions one night. In fact there is barely a relationship shared between two characters that doesn’t involves an element of hostility or conflict. And these are just two examples of how the relationships in this film say a lot, and this concept is drawn out further as we learn new things and meet new people in each chapter. The three chapters often overlap and provide us with something new about the situation, as it is seen through a different pair of eyes. This film expertly handles the dealing out of information, giving us just enough keep the film’s momentum.
From the very first scene, this Italian flick is slick-looking and smooth-talking, which would make sense, as it is directed by up-and-coming Italian director Paolo Virzì and is filled with the traditional, passionate Italian accents, humour and the hand gestures that come along with it all. Above all this though, the movie oozes with style. The suits, the passionate dialogue, the score, the direction; it all looks as professional as one could ask for. Again, this may have been inspired by an American book, but economic divide between citizens and often couples can translate into any language – upper-class folk turning their noses at those less fortunate is unfortunately an all-too-common thing to happen, as are relationships that misfire.
4/5 – This one is fuckin’ great, especially when the chapters occasionally intersect and you see the same scene in a totally different light and the movie suddenly shifts a gear. I was very surprised how instantly engaging it was. The ‘whodunnit’ scenario of the movie is not as deftly handled as say, Calvary, but the structure of the film, how it tells the story in chapters after showing what the end result is at the beginning is a ballsy move that I respect and enjoyed. It wasn’t safe and could have really flailed around, but it works and creates some great scenes where events overlap and the story is suddenly given a new perspective. It was a great technique that helped maintain the tension of the mystery while the film explored relationships, potential barriers stopping them, and the human condition in general. This is a story about corruption in Italy no doubt, but it is also an extremely interesting look into two families who would probably never meet if not for their dating children, and the emotional consequences of this massive class-gap that is evident in so many places around the world.
written by epilepticmoondancer
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