The best Italian films of the moment are shown -as every year- at the Venice Film Festival, the oldest and one of the most respectable film festivals in the world. The 2022 edition (August 31 – September 10) featured 5 Italian films, at least 5 films with a Italian director. The 18 other films of the official program come from other countries, with an emphasis on North America.
We are reviewing briefly the five films, which reflect the spirit of the time. The storylines of the five films is concentrated respectively on a ‘maxist’ saint, a man-eating duo, a transgender and her sick mother, a homosexual playwright and a girl who wants to be a boy.
The mentioned films may not be released on the international market until 2023. It is too early to say whether they will be streamed or not.
Venice Film Festival 2021 edition
Have also a look at all the Italian films presented at the Venice Film Festival 2021.
The lord of the Ants
- Director: Gianni Amelio
- Leading actors: Luigi Lo Cascio, Elio Germano
- Original title: Il signore delle formiche
- Genre: Drama
A playwright in Rome is put on trial in the 1960s on charges of plagio (which means plagiarism, but also subjecting someone to his will). The playwright’s pupil is involved and, as a result, the boy is hospitalised in a psychiatric hospital to cure him of his Marxist ideals, which are said to have been inspired by the playwright. The suspicion at the time (this is a true story) was that the trial was actually motivated by the desire to prosecute political ideas and the homosexuality of the playwright.
The 77 years old director is known for the wonderful Ladri di Bambini (1992) and Così ridevano (1998), with which he won the Cannes (Grand Prix) and Venice film festivals respectively. The main actor is Germano, possibly Italy’s best actor, whom we have featured on this site more than once.
- Director: Susanna Nicchiarelli
- Leading actors: Margherita Mazzucco, Andrea Carpenzano, Luigi Lo Cascio
- Original title: Chiara
- Genre: Drama
Clare is also set in the past, actually quite a few Italian films are set in the past (that past is indeed very rich) – that is quite characteristic for the Italian film scene. The past in this feature film takes us back eight centuries in time. Clare is the counterpart of Saint Francis, both founders of a religious (Catholic) order that is truly about charity.
The film is not a reli film: You cannot expect that of director Nicchiarelli, who has previously made films about strong ‘feminist’ women (singer Nico and Eleanor Marx). The film “rediscovers the political, other than spiritual, dimension of her ‘radical’ live—the choice of poverty, of a life at the margins of an unfair society, the dream and foundation of a community life without any hierarchy or power division”, Nicchiarelli commented.
We have met actor Andrea Carpenzano (St. Francis in this film) before: check out the film where he is less sacred, but instead a drugged trap singer.
- Director: Andrea Pallaoro
- Leading actors: Trace Lysette and Patricia Clarkson
- Original title: Monica
- Genre: Drama
Monica is a transgender person who returns home after a long time to her now ailing mother who once rejected her. The actions in the film are slow and Monica can hardly be seen directly frontal for much of the film. The director uses mirrors, among other things. The film image that is now being distributed, in which you see both the mother, but through a mirror, and the daughter, in the face, is a classic image. It reminds us strongly of the 1963 movie ‘Il Gattopardo’. Not very original, therefore.
The important thing about this film is that it appeals to universal values, such as abandonment and forgiveness, that is completely different from typical trans films.
This film too (the other being ‘Bones and all’) is more American than Italian, given the cast and the language spoken and even the 40-year-old Italian director (and screenwriter) Andrea Pallaoro, who lives and works in the US, is quite Americanised, yet the film is officially credited to Italy.
Bones and all
- Director: Luca Guadagnino
- Leading actors: Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell.
- Original title: Bones and all
- Genre: Drama
- Platform: Amazon (November 2022)
Apart from the director, this film is anything but Italian. But we must say: the director is not just any director, but one of the most famous ones: Luca Guadagnino, known for ‘Call Me by Your Name’, especially popular in the US. This film brought Luca Guadagnino the Best Director award (the Silver Lion) at the 2022 Venice Film Festival.
The story is set in the US, perhaps for that (Guadagnino) reason, and is a combination of coming of age and road movie theme. The story is based on the novel of the same name by the American author Camille DeAngelis. The storyline deals with issues such as feminism, loneliness and self loathing, and the moral problem of flesh eating, yes cannibalism, possibly the world’s last taboo. At the banquet are Timothée Chalamet and Taylor -Lost in Space- Russell.
Experience Name Movie for yourself:
- Director: Emanuele Crialese
- Leading actor: Penelope Cruz
- Original title: L’immensità
- Genre: Drama
This film, which has beautiful photography and wonderful locations (how can it be when a film is set in Rome!) is also about gender identity. It is without doubt the theme of the moment.
The film is -to put it very briefly- about a 12 year old girl who wants to be a boy. It is to some extent an autobiographical story by director Crialese. The actual leading role in the film is in my view for Penelope Crux, who plays the mother of the child. Cruz is very convincing and simply one of the best European actors.
Read more on the Venice Film Festival 2022 program.