- VENICE 2022: Paolo Virzì’s movie is a dystopia suggested to him by the recent Covid-19 pandemic, using sarcasm to depict a hopelessly ailing society
Rome is on its knees on account of a drought and is now running on empty, the blond Tiber has been reduced to a Dakar rally track, and the city’s ancient bridges straddle the dust and debris which was once submerged by water. After 367 days of rationing, the population is rebelling, and on the capital’s scorching streets the lives of a series of characters, whom even Robert Altman would struggle to keep track of, cross paths. By way of Dry [+see also:
film profile], welcomed Out of Competition at the 79th Venice Film Festival, Paolo Virzì is offering up a dystopic tale which came to him in lockdown during the 2020 pandemic, and he does so armed with the firepower of a cosmic cast, and production efforts which have helped him to create credible images of a city, projected into a potentially dried-up and withered future, as could only be possible with human beings.
The conveyor belt of characters include a convict who has killed his wife (Silvio Orlando), who finds himself casually catapulted out of prison and who decides to track down his daughter; an improvised taxi driver (Valerio Mastandrea) who takes massive doses of cocaine to keep himself awake and who talks alternately to his dead parents and to a former leader of the left who took his own life, whom he imagines are seated where his real passengers sit; a head physician at a hospital (Claudia Pandolfi) whom we learn is the taxi driver’s ex and the current wife of a lawyer who doesn’t love her (Vinicio Marchioni - he’s currently flirting with an old school friend, who is herself married to out-of-work theatre actor turned viral video blogger Tommaso Ragno); a former high-end tailor whose career has ended in disgrace (Max Tortora); a hydrology expert (Diego Ribon) who becomes a TV star (much like virologists during the pandemic); an entrepreneur and his daughter (Emanuela Fanelli) who are diverting water; a pair of homosexual musicians, and Monica Bellucci, who plays herself. The film also features the children of some of these characters and a boy from Mali.
The destinies of all these characters overlap and often to devastating effect. Dry could be summed up using a statement from the blogger’s teenage son: “There’s so much of that kind of hate out there, you couldn’t even imagine”, because the intention of the director behind The Leisure Seeker [+see also:
Q&A: Paolo Virzì
film profile] and of his screenwriters Francesca Archibugi, Paolo Giordano and Francesco Piccolo, is to depict – with uncommonly dark and pungent sarcasm - a hopelessly ailing society, whose pathology is made worse by various emergencies: ecological, humanitarian and geopolitical. It’s a malaise which cuts across generations, gender and social groups alike. Virzì doesn’t hold back when it comes to this seething cauldron. Meanwhile, on the riverbed of the parched Tiber, we see a man dressed in a tunic with a pregnant wife riding a donkey.
(Translated from Italian)
Photogallery 08/09/2022: Venice 2022 - Dry
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