Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:18 am 
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FRANCESCA ARCHIBUGI: VIVERE (2019) - CINEMA ITALIAN STYLE

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ADRIANI GIANNINI, ALISA MICCOLI, ANDREA CALIGARI

Family loyalty, Roman style

There is not a lot to add to the Cineropa review, which is translated from the Italian of Camillo De Marco. The Attorres are a dysunctional, miserable family living in a multi-level bungalow on the outskirts of Rome. Susi (Micaela Ramazzotti) is a failed ballet dancer reduced to teaching a dance class for overweight women. She herself suffers from a low self-image and feeling sorry for herself. Lucilla (Elisa Miccoli) is her 7-year-old, who has severe asthma - but is it mostly psychosomatic, and worsened by the meds and inhalers forced on her by her parents? Her father is the equally sad-sack, self-pitying Luca (Adriano Giannini), a free lance journalist who makes up stuff to get lots of hits. He still depends on his former father-in-law, De Santis (Enrico Montesano), a wealthy and corrupt lawyer whose liaison is Luca's son by De Santis' daughter, 17-year-old Pierpaolo (Andrea Calligari), the most together person on screen and also a cool new actor with good energy and timing. Pierpaolo likes cocaine, but it's a teenager thing. He steals money to pay Luca's rent from his mother, Azzurra (Valentina Cervi), Luca's estranged wife, because De Santis won't support Luca any more. Whenever Pierpaolo is on screen there is a moment of sanity and alertness otherwise missing.

Action is stirred up by the arrival of an Irish au pair girl, Mary Ann (Roisin O'Donovan), who comes to take care of Lucilla, but being a naive Catholic girl, lets Luca get into her pants. Of course, she gets pregnant. But she soon realizes Luca is a loser, and Susi helps her get an abortion. She takes her Italian exams and goes back to Galway. Susi gets her fling, a romantic flirtation with an expensive specialist, Dr. Marinoni (Massimo Ghini), a lonely widower she takes Lucilla to for a drug-free asthma cure based on Buteyko-like breathing methods.

A nerdy neighbor completes the cast. He is an industrial expert known as Perind, played by Marcello Fonte, the odd-looking star of Garrone's Dogman, who won the Cannes Best Actor prize. When the camera gets close to him near the end, it's creepy. As Camillo De Marco puts it, "the circle closes" (oh, is that what it is?) when De Santis is found dead of a heart attack in the bed of a Brazilian transgender prostitute to whom he spilled all so she knows the family and says, when he appears, "You must be Luca: a loser and a bit of a prick." (The screenplay likes to spell things out thrice over.)

Luca’s paper tempts him with a chair in the newsroom and benefits if he will write a series of exposés spilling the beans about his father-in-law's nefarious dealings. But for a change he does the right thing and refuses to expose his indirect benefactor and his family. That makes sense, I guess. But what I can't quite grasp is why director Archibugi and screenwriter Francesco Piccolo care about all these people, or why we should do so. There isn't enough wit, emotion, or storytelling skill on display in this film to justify our time.

Showing in "Cinema Italian Style" at the Vogue Theater, San Francisco, 3 p.m. Saturday, November 23, 2019.

Vivere ("To Live"), 103 min., debuted out of competition at Venice, Aug. 2019, Italian theatrical release Sept., Chicago Film Festival Oct.

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