And they saved the best until last
Well, more or less. Vivere
was one of the four films I liked most at the LLGFF rather than a film I liked more than any of the others, but I certainly liked it as much as Breakfast with Scot
and Beautiful Daughters
. It was terribly assured both as a tour de force piece of narrative and as a piece of visual cinema - I would have loved either aspect and the fact that it worked so well in both areas is one of the things that impressed me most about it.
It consists of three interlocking versions of the same narrative, each viewpoint being shot slightly differently. Francesca, a German/Italian taxi-driver searching in Rotterdam for her younger sister who has run away with a boyfriend in a band, and falling for an older woman whom eh rescues from a car crash, is shot very much in terms of pictorial noir. A lot of the shots in her bits look quite like Edward Hopper paintings, I noticed. Gerlinde, the older woman, in the middle of a bad break-up and not sure what she thinks about this much younger love interest, is shot in a much colder clearer palette - one scene of her eating a quiet solitary dinner in her own flat is almost a Vermeer. Antonietta, the sister, gets a much less painterly, much more straightforwardly filmed style. When we see the same incident from a different viewpoint, as we do quite often, there are subtle differences - a fourth style creeps in in the scenes, punctuating these three narratives, in which the three are together, looking at the stars.
It is an intelligent film with something to say, something that is none the less impressive for being inchoate. To live - vivere - is about deciding to do it, as much as about the decisions you make about the details. Francesca has to decide that her life is not just a matter of keeping the peace between her sister and their father - it becomes clear that she has stayed in the closet to simplify that, and that particular bird has now flown. Gerlinde accepted second best as the dirty little secret of a married woman and that is now over for good - when the woman who dumped her tries to come back, Gerlinde ditches the phone. And whatever Antonietta's future is, it probably will not involve the boyfriend who lets his mates pressure him into driving away from the crash with Gerlinde and wants her to abort their child without even asking what she wants. You come away not knowing what the future of these friendships will be, but knowing that the two nights of the film have changed these lives.
It is full of neat little narrative details - at one point Francesca drives past the house hwere Gerlinde's Inge is having the family carol service from which, minutes later in real time, half an hour and more later in film time, Inge turns Gerlinde away by closing the open curtain. Not all of this works - there are some flubs in continuity about a jacket given to Antonietta by her boyfriend which constantly changes hands - but all that says is that this is not perfect. Now I want to see everything written and directed by Angelina Maccarone, who also, I realize, made Unveiled
which I saw a couple of years ago, the film about an Iranian lesbian passing as a male illegal immigrant. Which was also awesome.
And afterwards I went to a fab party, flirted with various objects of mild lust and came home to start getting ready for America. Service will be intermittent from now on. Tralala.
Oh, and BSG and Who were both a lot of fun. I might post on them later but don't rely on it.