Matteo Garrone's Reality shock
by Camillo De Marco
18/05/2012 - It's called the "Big Brother Shock". It hits you when you are doing an audition to take part in a reality show, you start dreaming, you think you've made it. And then they don't take you. So you enter into another world. And perhaps you don't want to ever come out of it.
After the success of Gomorra [trailer, film focus], the winner of the Jury's Grand Prix in Cannes 2008, Matteo Garrone is back in Competition with Reality [trailer, film focus], "a folk-tale", as he himself defined it. What is left of Gomorra is the setting in Naples, but this time the main character is a young and naïve fishmonger from a poor district, called Luciano. The story "really" took place in Naples. And the 44 year-old Roman director made a comedy out of it with his own touch. Disturbing, with powerful images. A film in which Fellini meets Eduardo De Filippo.
Reality's very long first sequence is worthy of the greatest Italian cinema of the past: a golden carriage drawn by two white horses carrying a newly-wed couple crosses the streets of the suburb and reaches a non-descript place where the wedding celebrations are taking place. We immediately get to know the scene's characters, Luciano's family: overweight freaks brought up on garbage TV, romantic common people who the camera observes with a merciless eye. The film's key work is 'dreaming'. And Luciano dreams: when he meets a former Big Brother contestant, who is earning thousands just to come as a guest to parties to then escape on a helicopter. Luciano, who supplements his income by pulling off little scams together with his wife Maria (Loredana Simioli), would like to be like him. But his naïvety will only lead him to fool himself into thinking he can change his life and escape the reality which he is unhappy with.
For the lead role Garrone chose the De Niro-like face of Aniello Arena, who is serving 20 years in prison and has 10 years of theatrical experience with the director Armando Punzo's Compagnia della Fortezza in the prison of Volterra. He was the ticking time bomb which could have had significant political impact but which remained a story like many others. Devastating in his simplicity.
(Translated from Italian)