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Reality
Matteo Garrone Italien, 2012
Our tragic hero, an everyman who works in the market of Naples, is played by Aniello Arena (a real-life convict serving a life sentence) and it’s his mix of candour and curiosity that gives this meandering film its soul. Garrone, the director, made a better film in the nail-biting mafia saga Gomorrah; his shot at pondering contemporary Italy here is admirable but somewhat weak.
June 05, 2015
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Unlike the damaged individuals who populate Garrone’s other films, the logic of Luciano’s attitude is subject to multiple interpretations within his social sphere. Michele, Luciano’s partner in the fishmongering business, suggests that what Luciano is feeling isn’t the pathology of TV obsession, but the omnipresence of the Lord, who sees all and takes notes for the final Judgment. This only complicates matters, which is precisely Garrone’s point.
April 01, 2013
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Matteo Garrone follows his crime epic Gomorrah(2008) with a comedy about reality TV, and though it hardly rivals the earlier movie in its social complexity, it still offers the spectacle of a vibrant and vividly realized Neapolitan neighborhood.
March 27, 2013
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Garrone shot Reality in sequence and considered several endings, from the positive to the downright tragic. Given the director’s clear affection for his protagonist, the oneiric ambiguity of the chosen finale should come as no surprise. Rather than a cop-out, it’s very much in keeping with the tone of the film as a whole. Wisely going beyond tired arguments over Big Brother and reality TV, Reality works both as a modern fairytale and as a… contemporary take on the commedia all’italiana.
March 22, 2013
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The parallels between seeking absolution from ephemeral media fame and God aren’t subtle. “We’re all watched,” Luciano’s devout friend Michele (Nando Paone) tells him. “Our lord observes.” Luciano’s paranoia increasingly confines the film to claustrophobic, inward spirals between impoverished locations. It’s overextended satire, arguing its case with increasingly diminishing pungency.
March 14, 2013
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…An oddly muffled character study cum media satire that is better visually conceptualized than narratively realized, and which doesn’t have much in the way of emotional revelation for those likely to watch it stateside.
March 14, 2013
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If “Reality” isn’t quite as impressive as Garrone’s 2008 “Gomorrah,” an operatic and many-stranded saga about the long tentacles of Naples’ criminal underworld, it makes clear that he’s a filmmaker who can take a familiar story and infuse it with strangeness and vitality… [It’s] a little bit Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” and a whole bunch Martin Scorsese’s "The King of Comedy.
March 14, 2013
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Directed by Matteo Garrone, “Reality” is a story about one man’s desire to make it big on the small screen, and something of a familiar exploration of the blurring between reality and its simulations. More elliptically and more interestingly, it is also a look at an Italy engrossed with rituals and spectacle, in watching and being watched.
March 14, 2013
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The God’s-eye view in the final shot, if not on the level of Orwell, offers a bleak view of what people get in return for chasing Big Brother.
March 14, 2013
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Garrone is in complete control of his thematic plutonium. Step by step, with a setup that evokes Honeymoonersepisodes, Reality builds to as scalding a vision of televisual simulacra and its maddened victims as Scorsese’s The King of Comedy.
March 13, 2013
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This vision of contemporary Italy as a warped fairyland filled with corpulent slobs and seedy C-grade celebrities recalls the tough-love spectacle of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, but Reality frustratingly devolves into a far more tedious mass-media morality tale. In case you haven’t heard (or read any killjoy think pieces of the past 60 years), television will pervert your values and drain your brain, as will—another news flash!—churchly faith.
March 11, 2013
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…The director has a pretty ingenious metaphorical thrust, one which equates the fame-seeking hordes of aspiring reality TV contestants with religious devotees clamoring for eternal salvation. Unfortunately, the whole thing never fully coheres. Garrone has a sure eye for outlandish set pieces that exhibit the expansive outlines of his ideas, but these spectacles are sporadic, and the spaces between them tend to lag.
March 11, 2013
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With no clear point of view, the film ends up losing its bearings completely and becomes increasingly confused as it progresses. Garrone’s sense of narrative structure is clumsier than ever, if usefully so: you never know where Catholicism as a subversive strategy ends and where its place as a cog in the Church’s machinery begins.
March 01, 2013
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Reality’s bluntness as a religious satire—with the Big Brother house being equated with Heaven on more than one occasion—is another unwelcome surprise, especially since it mars the film’s many good scenes with a condescending attitude that extends beyond Garrone’s characters to his viewers. Reality television may be the end of culture as we know it, but at least it never risks being patronizing to the folks out there in the dark.
September 01, 2012
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The realist issues within Reality then shift from media matters and Garrone’s interest in undermining cinematic reality… to one man’s grasp on the difference between reality and delusion. That the show’s studio set happens to be physically close to the set-like Vatican underlines (to an obvious extent by the film’s final stretch) the tie-ins between old-time religion and new electronic entertainment with its powers of seduction and pull toward an alternative life.
May 29, 2012
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In truth, the movie works better conceptually than it does moment-to-moment, as its luckless hero’s journey into delusion does follow a predictable trajectory (albeit one enlivened by Arena’s winning performance). But it’s still invigorating to see a movie unafraid to make a bold statement, though few seem to have noticed. If Luis Buñuel were alive today, this is roughly what I’d expect him to be up to.
May 19, 2012
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The film is most interesting when subtly probing the conflicts between traditional values and hyper-techno-modernism, as well as between sacred and profane. The village fishmonger/light racketeer whose only ambition is to become a reality TV idol is the epitome of the ultimately untenable butting-up of old and new worlds.
May 18, 2012
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When it’s not indulging in sub-Fellini grotesquery, such as one scene where Luciano goes along to the Big Brother auditions, which are held in Rome’s cathedral of cinema, Cinecittá, the film does have interesting things to say about how tough it is to comprehend being a tiny cog in the huge, sprawling machine of society.
May 18, 2012
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Garrone feels deeply for Luciano’s taxing plight, but never lets him escape the mire of his actions. His self-imposed encasement inside the container of “reality television” is a reflection of personal retreat, not an assessment of society’s many contradictions and failures. In Reality, giving up on ourselves (and each other) is the real tragedy, the true epidemic of character, devoid of a happy ending, real or imagined.
May 18, 2012
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What Reality loses in satirical momentum as it slouches through its second half, it gains in substance by positioning celebrity as the new cracked sainthood. (The voices in these holy fools’ heads are no longer a direct channel to divinity; they now belong to network producers.) It’s a leap of faith that doesn’t always pay off, and you wonder what the filmmaker would have come up with had he mounted a more Gomorrah-ishly multifaceted look to Italy’s obsession with TV fame.
May 18, 2012
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