The consequences of greed: Servillo and Il Gioiellino
by Camillo de Marco
01/03/2011 - After his brilliant 2007 debut with the multiple award-winning The Girl by the Lake [trailer], Andrea Molaioli is back with Il gioiellino [trailer] (“The Little Gem”, out on March on 170 screens through BIM), a social film inspired by the scandal of the Parmalat collapse that led to the incarceration of the heads of the food giant for fraudulent bankruptcy and wreaked financial havoc among shareholders and small investors.
Produced by Indigo Film (Il Divo [trailer, film focus]) with France’s Babe, and with RAI Cinema, Il Gioiellino stars Remo Girone as the food company founder, Toni Servillo as the accountant and true “brains” of the company, and Sarah Felberbaum as the founder’s niece with a master in economics.
A cross between news story and apologue, Il Gioiellino doesn’t want to be an investigative film. Molaioli, who used Francesco Rosi’s Il Caso Mattei as a model, says the idea "began with a reflection on the global crisis, on the anxiety that over recent years has been around financial systems. The Parmalat scandal was on the one hand very much about Italy, with its amoral familism, but also about a certain kind of unscrupulous management that goes beyond Italy, and is typically Western.
I was interested in the schizophrenia of characters on the edge of the abyss as they repeat ‘Everything’s fine’. The film’s title in fact comes from a statement by the real-life protagonist of the Parmalat collpase, Callisto Tanzi: "Besides the 14 billion euro hole, the company is a little gem".
The script was written by the director, Ludovica Rampoldi (The Double Hour [trailer, film focus]) and Gabriele Romagnoli, a journalist, correspondent and leader writer of daily paper La Repubblica, which perhaps gave the film an excessive news-like severity, to the detriment of its artistic qualities.
The performances by Girone and Servillo, who infuse these provincial managers of creative finance with great cynicism, can’t save the film from moments of weariness. Molaioli worked as assistant director to Nanni Moretti, Carlo Mazzacurati and Daniele Luchetti, but hasn’t acquired the causticity of the first, the passion of the second and the cinematic timing of the latter, and has yet to find his own style.
(Translated from Italian)