Milani returns to cinema with moving biopic
by Gabriele Barcaro
Having proven he is as comfortable with literary adaptations (from his first features, Auguri professore and La guerra degli Antò) as he is relating true events (the inspiration behind The Soul’s Place), the native of Rome here combines the two to tell the story of jazz musician Luca Flores, previously the subject the book Il disco del mondo – Vita breve di Luca Flores, musicista, written by Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni.
The idea for the film came from the pages of the biography, says Milani, “because the book has the insight to speak about a boy who is both normal and extraordinary”: a pure talent of the piano but above all a fragile man profoundly marked by his childhood in Africa spent following his geologist father, and feelings of guilt over the death of his mother, through to his dramatic suicide in 1995 on the eve of this 40th birthday.
Thus, Piano, solo (the title comes from the Rachmaninoff piece, which opens the film) does not aspire to be “about jazz, but about a man who with the piano spoke to others”. Milani (who wrote the script with Ivan Cotroneo, Claudio Piersanti and Sandro Petraglia) focuses on the person more than on the musician, with “a sense of measure, and an ethic that is indispensable for such a painful story”. To the point where “for the first time I renounced almost entirely the comical tones of my first films”.
The actors also felt a sense of responsibility towards the memory of Flores and his family (which actively participated in the shoot), from his “father” Michele Placido to his “girlfriend” Jasmine Trinca and “siblings” Paola Cortellesi, Corso Salani and Mariella Valentini.
However, it is above all lead actor Kim Rossi Stuart, once again grappling with schizophrenia as in 1994’s No Skin, who was very passionate about lending his face and body to the real Luca Flores: “The emotional pull that convinced me to make this film was reading his letters, seeing the amateur movies shot with his family and at concerts”.
Piano, solo ends on an emotional note with one of these home movies, reuniting in the grainy Super 8 images the entire Flores family: those who have passed away alongside those who painfully continue to remember them.
(Translated from Italian)