Capuano’s Dark Love a bright light in Italian cinema
by Natasha Senjanovic
03/09/2010 - Antonio Capuano’s Dark Love [trailer] screened to a packed house on the second day of Venice Days, and was followed by a hugely enthusiastic response from the visibly moved audience. It took nearly ten minutes before the applause died down and the public allowed the director and actors to take to the stage for the post-screening Q&A.
Most of the kudos were directed at Capuano and his two young protagonists Gabriele Agrio and Irene De Angelis, newcomers who play, respectively, an adolescent boy who turns himself into the police after participating in a gang rape, and his victim. Agrio shines in the film, and in Capuano’s hands his sensitivity and natural talent are lifted to an even greater intensity.
After being sentenced to a juvenile detention center, Ciro (Agrio) starts writing letters to his victim, in an attempt to understand himself as much as to ask forgiveness. Capuano follows both stories evenly, but shows more comprehension for the boy, who comes from the same social milieu as the director.
Said Capuano: “Everything was riding on the shoulders on the two main characters, and I knew that if I made a mistake in casting them, I’d end up with a shitty film. I scouted schools and found Gabriele first, then Irene. But I wasn’t completely sure about him; he was among the three ‘finalists’ because the others acted with more brio. Yet there was one particular line that he nailed like no one else. I made him repeat it a thousand times, and each time he moved me.”
The director choked up at the memory of the audition, and added that Agrio also managed to throw co-star Valeria Golino off kilter with the unwavering force of his delivery. De Angelis also rose to the occasion, embodying with heartbreaking detachment a “disembodied” young rich girl who struggles to piece together her life and her relationship with her body after the heinous crime.
Amazingly, the story is actually based on the life of a crewmember on one of Capuano’s older films. In real life, the man married his victim and now works for her father, only Capuano changed the ending to one that would not only be more believable, but offer the kind of open ending the director loves.
Also on hand with the film were cast members Luisa Ranieri, Anna Ammirati and Fabrizio Gifuni. All three spoke of Capuano’s infectious energy and lauded his bravery as an outsider who continues to make films outside of and speak openly against the current political and film system. Gifuni added: “In an obscene moment such as our current one, having Antonio’s poetry above, below around is a breath of fresh air. But his kind of courage shouldn’t surprise us, it should be the norm.”
When asked by a spectator why the film was not in Venice’s main competition, Capuano admitted he’d been asked the same question numerous times since the start of the festival. He added, however, that although he’s been in competition before on the Lido, he’s never had such an overwhelming response to one of his films.