School is Over for Jalongo
by Gabriele Barcaro
29/10/2010 - For whom does the bell toll? The title of the new film by Valerio Jalongo, the first of four Italians in competition at the Rome International Film Festival, is both literal and metaphorical: School is Over [trailer] because it’s time for summer vacation, or because time is running out for public education?
Daria Quarenghi and Aldo Talarico (respectively Valeria Golino and Vincenzo Amato, reunited eight years after Respiro: Grazia’s Island [trailer]) are a couple on the verge of divorce. They teach in a technical high school not unlike the one in which the director himself teaches, where, he says, “total, metaphysical boredom reigns”.
The very opposite of what happens when the school day ends, when students grab guitars and being playing. Like Alex (Fulvio Forti), a petty drug dealer, a hero to his classmates and a teacher’s nightmare. Especially Daria, who keeps on tutoring him after school even when money runs out; and Aldo, who eventually discovers in Alex a talented poet and guitar player.
Daria and Aldo are not typical teachers. She is an idealist with a hint of the naive, he a frustrated musician disillusioned with his profession. In Alex they find a challenge to give meaning to their lives, to “save the world” and, unwittingly, themselves.
But they get a little carried away. And here Jalongo, who for almost the entire film manages to avoid facile sociologisms by sticking close to his young protagonist, falls into soapboxing against “the system” (Aldo is suspended after taking part in the school’s occupation and taking drugs with Alex) and the media circus brought on when Alex’s mother (Antonella Ponziani), accuses Daria of coming on to her son. For the school’s two most humane teachers, there is no place in the classroom. For them, school truly is over.
Divided in six chapters and featuring the music of Francesco Sàrcina of Le Vibrazioni, School is Over was written by Jalongo, Francesca Marciano and two names familiar with the subject: Daniele Luchetti (La scuola) and Alfredo Covelli (TV's I liceali).
An Italian-Swiss co-production between Ameuropa and Amka Films, in collaboration with con Frame By Frame, in co-production with RAI Cinema, RSI Radiotelevisione Svizzera and SRG SSR idée suisse, the film will be released in Italy on November 12 through Bolero Film. International sales are handled by Adriana Chiesa.
(Translated from Italian)