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Review: C’è tempo

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- Walter Veltroni focuses on good feeling and hope in a story about a rainbow researcher and a young film-lover, honouring Truffaut and Bertolucci in the process

Review: C’è tempo
Giovanni Fuoco and Stefano Fresi in C’è tempo

A "nostalgia for the present" – just like the title of the poem by Jorge Luis Borges – and for films that have come and gone, and which conquered our hearts forever. A collective machine that produces memories. With his first fiction film after a number of documentaries, Walter Veltroni is a film-loving prisoner of sorts. C'è tempo – produced by Palomar and Vision Distribution (which is also distributing the film in Italy on Thursday 7 March) in co-production with the French company Pathé (which is also selling the film abroad) – continues to focus its attention on the young, as Veltroni also did back in 2015 with his documentary I bambini sanno, in which children talk about growing up and getting to know the world, themselves and others. This new film might just be addressed to those very children themselves, and to their families, and is therefore ostentatiously candid and full of hope and good feeling. Hope and good feeling that "is revolutionary these days,” states the 63-year-old director, former leader of the Italian Communist Party, vice-premier and Minister of Cultural Heritage in the 90s, who is famous for his love of cinema.

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The protagonists of C'e tempo are two brothers. Stefano (Stefano Fresi) is a forty-year-old with Peter Pan syndrome who has two non-conventional jobs: he’s a rainbow researcher and guardian of mirrors that reflect the sun onto Viganella, a small village of 207 inhabitants in a Piedmont valley that remains in the shade for a few months a year (true story). He is in crisis with his partner due to a lack of money when an opportunity suddenly arises. Stefano’s father, whom he never knew, has died, together with his current wife and they’ve left behind a son, thirteen-year-old Giovanni (Giovanni Fuoco). In their will, they ask Stefano to take care of his half-brother in exchange for €100,000. The two meet in Rome and embark on a journey (both physical and emotional) in Stefano’s Volkswagen Maggiolone, through an idyllic Italy consisting of country roads and beautiful landscapes. The elder brother, a huge fan of Rome and nostalgic for the 1980s, can’t stand kids. While the little boy, who speaks like a lawyer, is a Juventus fan and has seen every single one of François Truffaut’s films.

Written with Doriana Leondeff – an excellent screenwriter who could have perhaps instilled a little more elegance into the screenplay – the film represents a journey into the director's own memory and includes a number of quotes from old films in every scene. More than fifty in total, as Veltroni himself has admitted. From the Fulgor Cinema in Rimini, where Fellini went as a kid, to the red and white polka dot gun in Dillinger is Dead by Marco Ferreri, to the robe worn by Sophia Loren in A Special Day by Ettore Scola. But above all, the film honours Truffaut and Bernardo Bertolucci, with sequences from The 400 Blows, a visit to the set of 1900 and the scene in which Sterling Hayden teaches little Olmo Dalcò to be a proud farmer. Veltroni strives to link the figures of Olmo, Antoine Doinel and his own protagonist Giovanni and even transports his characters to Paris in the film’s final scenes, where Jean-Pierre Léaud himself makes a cameo. However, the overbearing number or tributes, or ‘thanks,’ as the director himself describes them, prevent the film from assuming its own identity, taking shape and finding its own shoes to walk in.

(Translated from Italian)

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