Luigi Lo Cascio

Luigi Lo Cascio

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Human Capital Review


Good

Sharply well-made and powerfully performed, this Italian drama weaves together three perspectives to explore a mystery that's so involving that it pushes the central theme about the value of a human life into the background. Of course financial issues are far less interesting than personal drama, but even if the message is rather muddled, this is an involving low-key dramatic thriller that has a lot to say about human ambition.

The story is told in three chapters, as the same six months are seen through three perspectives. First, Dino (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) is struggling financially when he realises that his daughter Serena (Matilde Gioli) is dating Massimiliano (Guglielmo Pinelli), son of noted hedge fund manager Giovanni (Fabrizio Gifuni). So Dino illicitly borrows cash to make an investment, then is shocked when the economy crashes just as his wife (Valeria Golino) gets pregnant. Second, Giovanni's wife Carla (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) convinces her husband to let her restore an abandoned local theatre, then she has an unexpected spark of romance with her artistic director (Luigi Lo Cascio). And third, Serena doesn't actually want romance with Massimiliano, and after telling him she just wants to be friends she meets Luca (Giovanni Anzaldo), a poor guy who isn't the thug everyone thinks he is.

All of this builds up to a fateful event witnessed in the film's prologue (and settled in the epilogue), letting each of the three strands intersect and interact in surprising ways. As the story is revealed from different angles, new truths emerge about the interplay between people from the upper, middle and lower classes - from the obscenely privileged who can buy their way out of anything to those who never seem to get a break. And the complex script never draws moral lines in the expected places, allowing the characters to continually surprise us with their reactions.

Continue reading: Human Capital Review

The Best of Youth Review


Excellent
There's a moment early on in the bright, roomy Italian melodrama Best of Youth that doesn't auger well for the rest of the film. In Turin, circa 1974, a medical student and his girlfriend have gotten trapped in a street protest and are about to be run down by the overzealous riot police, one of whom is his brother. While the two grew up very close, the last few years had seen them grow apart and this dramatic moment seems sure to set us up for a house-divided, North and South-type story that will use the brothers as symbolic of Italy's fractious extremes. Fortunately, that never happens, and as the film meanders along, it consistently shucks off any expectations of this kind, delivering instead a sumptuous story of a family, a time in history, and an entire country.

The first (and last) thing that people know of Best of Youth is that it is six hours long. This is indeed true. But rather than a deterrent, this should actually serve as an enticement - it's a film that has room to relax. Best of Youth starts with two brothers who come of age in Rome during the golden year of 1966. There's scooters on which they can zip about the graciously aging city, American R&B tootling out of radios everywhere, friendly prostitutes to relieve them of burdensome virginity, and, in short, their whole lives in front of them.

Continue reading: The Best of Youth Review

Good Morning, Night Review


Grim
Italian political history gets revisited in Good Morning, Night (aka Buongiorno, notte), the latest work from pedantic ideologue Marco Bellocchio. If you're already moving on to the next review at filmcritic.com ("God, not another history lesson! Let's see what they wrote about Mystic River or Kill Bill instead..."), I can't blame you. Bellocchio doesn't really make movies so much as build tracts, and his philosophy student background at the Catholic University of Milan is the driving force behind his films. They're philosophic inasmuch as they have characters sitting around discussing big ideas, which is the kiss of death for many films.

Inherently dramatic, Good Morning, Night has a strong premise addressing issues of responsibility and the dynamics of power. The Red Brigade terrorist group kidnaps Italian President Aldo Moro (Roberto Herlitzka) and holds him in their cell -- a small house in a suburban neighborhood. The youngest member of the group, and the only female, is Anna (Maya Sansa), who takes on the role of housewife for her three revolutionary companions and has a soul-stifling job at the local library. As days pass and the terrorists negotiate with the authorities, Anna questions her role in the political machinations. Though she never really grows more self-aware, she feels a sense of guilt over the possibility of killing Moro.

Continue reading: Good Morning, Night Review

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