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PRODUCTION Italy

Sorrentino: The unusual and the impossible

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Sorrentino: The unusual and the impossible

"I want to make people laugh with something that couldn’t comical,” said Paolo Sorrentino on the challenge he set himself in making a comedy about a loan shark. He further extends this challenge to the audiences who will go see The Family Friend, which is being released by Medusa on 130 Italian screens on November 10.

In competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it was well received by critics (see our festival coverage ), the film is coming out in Italy with some cuts and adjustments, especially in the ending. "We had a lot of time after Cannes,” explained the 36 year-old Neapolitan director, “and seeing as how a film is never perfect, we cut six minutes. It seemed a bit long to me and difficult to understand in moments".

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Written by Sorrentino, the film centres on Neapolitan actor Giacomo Rizzo, who from Pasolini’s Decameron in 1971 to today, through decades of genre films (mostly comical), has always played supporting roles. "I have always loved this extraordinary actor. Naturally, someone this bizarre can only be used for certain characters, but this film could allow him to step up to the leading role".

In the third feature film of a director already considered to be one of the most original filmmakers of Italian cinema, Rizzo convincingly plays a hateful, voluble loan shark obsessed with women’s bodies, who makes people call him "heart of gold" and meddles in the private affairs of the families to whom he lends money.

The film marks yet another extreme character for Sorrentino, after the men of One Man Up and The Consequences of Love. "We are all like him,” reflects Sorrentino. "To see degradation, you need only open up a newspaper or go out on the streets on a Sunday afternoon. It’s easier for any of us to become like Geremia than like Mother Teresa".

Starring Laura Chiatti and Fabrizio Bentivoglio, The Family Friend was produced by Indigo and Fandango, with support from Medusa and in co-production with France’s Babe Films and StudioCanal.

It is being sold internationally by Wild Bunch.

Camillo de Marco

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(Translated from Italian)

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