Review: The Man Without Gravity
- Starring Elio Germano as its anti-superhero and packed full of literary and cinematic references, Marco Bonfanti’s film challenges global audiences with its invocation of purity
Marco Bonfanti already proved his gift for the poetic and his ability to meld reality and fantasy in The Last Shepherd [+see also:
interview: Marco Bonfanti
film profile] back in 2012, telling the tale of Renato, the one nomadic shepherd remaining in Milan, who herds his flock all the way to the Piazza del Duomo, filling the eyes of many a child with wonder and delight.
With The Man Without Gravity [+see also:
film profile], presented during the pre-inauguration of the Rome Film Fest, Bonfanti and co-screenwriter Giulio Carrieri have created another free spirit, Oscar, though this is a fully invented character who’s free to the point that can float weightlessly up into the air. Oscar is played by Elio Germano, which is apt given that the Italian name “Elio” can be translated as “helium”, the lightest noble gas in the universe after hydrogen. One of the most “other-worldly” actors to grace the Italian film landscape, Germano plays, in this instance, a rather special individual who defies the laws of gravity: shortly after his birth in the film’s opening scene, we see Oscar floating in the air with the umbilical cord dangling beneath him, like a balloon on a string.
Bolstered by a more sizeable budget as a result of Netflix’ productive involvement, Bonfanti has availed himself of certain technologies used within Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity in a bid to make Oscar fly, with effects courtesy of Italian firm EDI alongside Belgium’s Digital District and NetFX - Netflix’ visual effects outfit in Los Angeles. But The Man Without Gravity isn’t a superhero film. Born in a small village, Oscar (played as a little boy by Pietro Pescara) is hidden away by his overprotective mum (Michela Cescon) and his grandma (Elena Cotta) who fear the curiosity people will inevitably feel when faced with a magical phenomenon. There’s just one young friend of Oscar’s who discovers his secret and it’s the woman that the man without gravity will reconnect with as an adult, having escaped from his family’s grip, found small screen fame by way of an ambiguous manager (Vincent Scarito) - who puts him on show as if he were some kind of circus phenomenon - and having found himself forced to choose between the loneliness of a public life as an exceptional being and the freedom that comes with normality. It’s a subtle film, full of literary and cinematic references, which challenges Netflix’ global audiences with its invocation of purity. The work of director of photography Michele D'Attanasio is perfectly honed, as is Giogiò Franchini and Sarah McTeigue’s editing and Tonino Zera’s set design.
The Man Without Gravity is produced by Isaria Productions and Zagora alongside Rai Cinema, and co-produced by Belgium’s Climax Films, with the support of MiBACT (the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism), the Lazio region and IDM Südtirol – Alto Adige on the one side, and the Federal Belgian Government and BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance on the other. International sales are managed by Fandango Sales and worldwide distribution by Netflix. The film will be available on Netflix from 1 November, following an “event release” in Italian cinemas on 21, 22 and 23 October via Fandango.
(Translated from Italian)
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