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THIS latest offering by Italian director Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) is a dark comic adventure that centres on a satirical perspective of the reality TV experience. The film won the Grand Prix at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the screenplay of which was adapted from a true story.
In a style that echoes the films of the great Federico Fellini, the film opens with a wedding ceremony where the biggest highlight is a brief appearance by a Big Brother winner, Enzo (Raffaele Ferrante), to welcome the bride and groom. Our protagonist, Luciano (Aniello Arena), a Neopolitan fishmonger in drag, also present to entertain the guests, witnesses the huge adoration everyone has for Enzo, and his own admiration grows.
Aside from his modest life selling fish, Luciano makes his living by selling robots on a small-time scam circuit.
His charismatic personality looms much larger than those of anyone else around him.
Unexpectedly, Luciano is presented with an opportunity to audition for Big Brother and encouraged further by his family.
His expectations and obsession with becoming rich instantly fuel a kind of paranoia that sends him on a spiral of madness.
He suddenly believes Big Brother has sent spies to check up on him, which in turn severs some of his family relations. All the while, Luciano remains hopeful of his appearance on the show, wanting to show how he could be as captivating as any other contestant.
The film offers a unique perspective of the Big Brother madness that swept the world and how it was experienced in Italy and is a reminder of the early roots of vanity-driven instant celebrity obsession.
An ordinary man enters a world of his own via this, losing himself to his desires, and removes himself from reality in the process.
There is a huge level of warmth and honesty portrayed by Luciano’s family with their genuine concern for him and his delusion of impending fame.
The strength of the film lies in Aniello Arena’s humane performance which carries a sincerity that makes his situation and false hope genuinely tragic.
If you liked The King of Comedy and To Die For then you will like this.