Michele, abandoned by his wife, lives with his son in a tiny apartment in Rome. His friends are all he has left, among which Fabio, who persuades Michele and the rest of the gang to put on a play.
If you only know Palme d’Or winner The Son’s Room, Nanni Moretti’s early comedies will be a special treat. Shot on Super 8, this debut feature already boasts a perfect balance between autobiography, social commentary and satire, launching what would become the Moretti touch.
35mm, rewatched. They are intertextual blocks, independent and self-representational (autarchic), with an internal personal narrative dynamic and a style mixed with a representational ethics - the opposite of Wes Anderson, for example. Is a film with a rough and unsophisticated text, what indirectly approximates it to some filmmakers who also used that language in their beginnings, like John Waters, for example.
Moretti's debut feature length picture shows little hint of the brilliance that would develop. Navel gazing script concerning the putting on of an 'experimental' play never really seems to get going yet the film seems much longer than it is.
Moretti's slapstick comedy did not age well. Several references today are cryptic to most non-Italian viewers and Moretti's rants and raves today fall flat. Additionally, threatening his son to "Call the ugly black man" would have been considered racist even in the Seventies. Nonetheless, the theatre director's imperative - "One needs abs and pectorals to be truly avant-garde" - is still true today.
It's very disjointed and almost collapses under the weight of its own experimentalism but this is a worthwhile early glimpse of Moretti's art (made when he was only 23). Notable for a rare onscreen appearance by Nanni's literary critic brother Franco and an even rarer use of Subutteo in a film.
A sentimental, dark comedy about the cinema (or theatre) - it's purpose and relation with critics, audience, actors and about the creative process itself. This is also a film about complicated relationships with women, independence, rejection, and loneliness. I was surprised how beautifully the small, trivial and often sad elements of life are presented here and actually are an integral part of the experience.