Director: Paolo Genovese
Cast: Toni Servillo, Margherita Buy, Valerio Mastandrea, Sara Serraiocco, Gabriele Cristini
Ariadne (Buy) is one policewoman who harbors an ancient pain inside the heart. Napoleon (Mastandrea) motivates others but has an inexplicable emptiness inside. Emilia (Serraiocco) is a former gymnastics champion confined to a wheelchair and Davide is a bullied boy forced by his parents to be a youtuber.
They are four souls in pain, on the verge of despair: indeed they have already passed that verge. A mysterious man (Servillo) approaches them on the same rainy night and asks them for a week to make them fall in love with life again, so that they can still feel that nostalgia for lost happiness. With “The first day of my life”, Paolo Genovese completes a journey that began a few years ago with “A perfect family”passing through “Perfect strangers” to finally arrive at the natural continuation of his latest work, namely the metaphysical “The Place”.
A reflection that feeds on parallel realities, mystifications, secrets and lies, an exchange of tracks up to the uchronies of “Perfect Strangers” and, now, of this parable about life and death, dominated by the funereal suicidal will of the protagonists. Plunged into a limbic and timeless atmosphere (a dilapidated hotel, a Rome framed by the street and its stations, cathode ray tube televisions), Genovese seems to go in an existentialist direction in which the human being is fungible like all things, unnecessary and replaceable.
But he lacks the courage to carry out the reflectionas if he felt the need to lighten the matter with almost fairy-tale grafts reminiscent of “It’s a wonderful life” but which, in the end, clash with a story that never manages to express the authentic desperation of the protagonists.
Based on the homonymous novel written by Genovese himself, “The first day of my life” remains entangled in a screenplay that is almost sluggish in its declamatory gait, so much so as to frustrate the interpretations of actors such as Servillo, Mastandrea and Buy, never so inadequately concealed. And with at least one interesting character (Vittoria Puccini) remaining sketchy, as is her relationship with the mysterious man. The result is an incomplete, weakened and somewhat yellowed drama. (Marco Contino)
Director: Samuel Benchetrit
Cast: François Damiens, Ramzy Bedia, Vanessa Paradis, Gustave Kervern, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
“I’m scared of going back to normal life,” confesses Suzanne (Vanessa Paradis) after playing Simone de Beauvoir in an amateur play. “We could do another one,” Jacky (Gustave Kervern) replies he just played Jean-Paul Sartre. “Another performance or another life?” she retorts. “Well…it’s the same thing,” Jacky says.
In this dialogue between two of the protagonists of “Sleeping with Sartre” the meaning of this is enclosed surreal comedy signed by Samuel Benchetrit. The art, the tenderness of a few Alexandrian verses, the poetic sensibility thrive even in the most unexpected hearts, sometimes confusing with life. It happens to one ramshackle handful of port gangsters in northern France, led by Jeff (François Damiens) who, for some time, between one racket and another, has been composing love verses for a supermarket cashier, neglecting his wife (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and daughter Jessica .
The other henchmen Jesus (JoeyStarr) and Poussin (Bouli Lanners) blackmail her classmates into attending her birthday party. And then there’s Neptune (Ramzy Bedia) who, like a Cyrano, helps his boss win over the cashier and Jacky who, to recover a credit, falls in love with an aspiring actress and gets involved in the theatrical show referred to in the dialogue quoted.
“Sleeping with Sartre” stages “7 Psychopaths” (including Jeff’s wife and daughter) who, at a certain point in their lives, are electrocuted by art and tenderness. On the verge of absurdity, their lives change, color themselves, remain exposed to the wind from the coast ready to fly away (even if, in the end, they still remain anchored to the harsh reality they have always fed on).
Benchetrit declines in the same sequence criminality and existentialismor: most of the time it’s a surprising combination with images that remain (Jacky’s story is perhaps the most evocative in the syncretism of opposite situations), other times the paroxysm tends to “nail down” the rhythm of the film. However, it has a beating heart and protagonists to whom it is easy to become attached. (Marco Contino)
A film by Matteo Calore, Stefano Collizzolli, Andrea Segre
They call it “the game” but it’s not a game; indeed, it sounds like a tragic oxymoron. It is the repeated and desperate attempt of Asian migrants to reach our country through the Balkan route: Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and, finally, Italy, a stone’s throw from Trieste. Days and nights of walking through the mountains, in the snow and in the cold, often without food. With 30 kilos on their shoulders and the fear, after an exhausting journey, of being rejected without even being able to apply for asylum.
“Trieste is beautiful at night”, the new documentary signed by Matteo Calore, Stefano Collizzolli and Andrea Segre (founders of the Paduan collective Zalab), tackles the theme of so-called “informal readmissions”, entrusting the testimony of those who have tried the “game” several times with the reconstruction of an instrument already declared illegitimate by a court, yet still permitted and, even, encouraged by governments in that constant tension between written rules, sentences and practices that underpin the policy of rejections. The documentary, which premiered at the Trieste Film Festival and is now on tour throughout Italy accompanied by its authors, tries to shed light on these “informal readmissions”.
This is a practice that found widespread use in 2020, during the pandemic and, therefore, in a period in which attention was catalysed elsewhere. Today it is being encouraged again despite a ruling by the Court of Rome having declared it illegitimate.
Basically, anyone arriving in Italy from the Balkans is caught, not registered and, therefore, “readmitted”, i.e. handed back to the Slovenian police. IS a kind of non-bloody rejection and it is very widespread. The documentary preserves the stories of the migrants who made it – guests of “Casa Malala”, the reception center overlooking the border police barracks at the Fernetti crossing point in Trieste – and of those camped in an abandoned farmhouse in Bihac, in Bosnia, waiting to leave for the “game” between dreams and, above all, fears.
Much of what they have experienced is close to hell, some call it “the Apocalypse”: abused and stripped of everything by the police Croatian, some have retried the “game” even 30 times. If the documentary has the advantage of bringing out a theme known to few, naturally the subject of conflict and ideology, on a strictly aesthetic level its gait is rather conventional and, in the seriality of the stories, alternated with authentic images taken with mobile phones by the migrants themselves , ends up “cooling down” a matter which, on the contrary, should be charged with emotion.
That basic limbic feeling remains which, then, is the one shared by migrants (safe but unaware of what awaits them or waiting to leave on yet another journey whose fate is always uncertain) which, perhaps, should have been dissolved in a deeper reflection rather than in an, albeit urgent, observation of a reality whose outlines are still very ambiguous. (Marco Contino)
Director: Ursula Meier
Cast: Stéphanie Blanchoud, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Elli Spagnolo
Margaret is a thirty-five year old with a turbulent life, of artistic and sentimental disappointments, often resulting in inflicted and suffered violence, which led her to an evident emotional fragility. After a heated discussion with her mother, she decides to report her. While waiting for the trial to take place, the judge imposes a restraining order on Margaret: for three months the woman will not be able to come into contact with the mother in any waynor stay within a hundred meters of the house where the woman lives. A distance that Marion, the youngest of Margaret’s sisters, paints around the house, making the invisible furrow visible between people.
The Franco-Swiss director Ursula Meier is still dedicating herself, after “Sister”, to investigate and paint the difficult family relationships. Unconventional nucleuses, very feminine, in which the roles are reversed and the daughters appear much more responsible than the mother, the young girls even more than the adults, the women more than the men: a daughter revolts against her mother, the mother is disinterested in daughters, all between tangible age differences.
Meier’s narration is also unconventional, which begins with the slow-mo brawl, the outlines of which are unclear. Old rusts linked to suffered maternity, failed artistic careers whose outcome the mother holds against her daughters, and all around an emotional aridity that brings violence on one side, mystical flight into religion on the other.
And so, like her protagonists, the director fulfills a difficult path of balances and unsaid, which does not always get to the point, due to a predilection for aphasias, silences, ellipses, which tease the viewer, but sometimes leave him confused.
The violence of anger it contrasts with disesteem and disinterest, with selfishness cloaked in feigned carelessness, in which the role of the mother, played by Valeria Bruna Tedeschi (almost a prisoner of a caricature mask by now) becomes paradigmatic. (Michael Gottardi)
Director: Mateusz Kudla and Anna Kokoszka-Romer
Cast: Roman Polanski and Ryszard Horowitz
In the week of “Memorial Day” in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, television and cinema always offer old and new appointments. Among these is the delicate documentary “Hometown – La strada dei memories”, directed by Mateusz Kudla and Anna Kokoszka-Romer, but all centered on the meeting between the great director Roman Polanski and the no less famous photographer Ryszard Horowitz. Both originally from Krakow, have built their friendship far from Poland, around the world. So they decide to return to Poland to share the most personal memories of their childhood and youth.
Their walking brings out memories and dramatic stories: childhood, survival of the Nazi genocide, war. Horowitz was one of the children rescued by Oscar Schindler and Polanski was kept in hiding by a poor Catholic peasant family, in a small village outside Kraków.
The two young directors leave the field free for the two stars, who don’t need instructions on what to say and what to do, they observe and film them without invading the space: little by little the memories and close-ups alternate with archive images of Krakow before the war alternating with those of Auschwitz.
But the whole story is on the bittersweet thread of amarcord, where the places, from the Jewish cemetery to the house where Polanski took refuge, have a high evocative power. And all narrated and dialogued without victimhood, but with a subtle vein of humor, very Yiddish, which makes the documentary a great little testimony. (Michael Gottardi)
Cinema at 100 percent, here are the reviews of the films released on January 26th