Venice Film Festival day 3 reviews: E’ Stato il Figlio and The Master
The third day at the Venice Film Festival featured the long-awaited screening of the new Paul Thomas Anderson movie The Master, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix (in competition), as well as a picture on the official shortlist for the Golden Lion award, E’ Stato il Figlio by Daniele Ciprì.
E’ Stato il Figlio by Daniele Ciprì
Set in Sicily during the Mafia’s most violent years, this movie tells the story of a working-class family who lost their little daughter Serenella when she was mistakenly caught in the crossfire of organised crime. You may expect this to be a heartbreaking drama, but E’ Stato il Figlio is in fact a black comedy.
The family discovers that they can obtain a compensation grant from the government for losing their daughter as a victim of the Mafia; after weeks of waiting and worrying, they finally receive the payment.
What are they going to buy with it? A new flat? A new life? No, they opt for a posh Mercedes to show off their new status. But in this tragicomedy, the car is the worst possible choice.
The Master by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Second World War has just ended and America is a country full of hope but also full of fear. Freddy Quail (Joaquin Phoenix) fought the Japanese and now struggles to deal with a dark past and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Changing job every week, arguing and fighting with everyone and trying to get with every girl, Freddy finds shelter in alcohol.
One night, after running away from a farm where he was accused of killing a man, he ends up on Lancaster Dodd’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) ship.
When he wakes up he soon realises that the boat is on a journey to spread the scientific and theological theories of “The Cause”, a new-born religion based on the book written by Mr Dodd.
Freddy finds a mentor, a friend and a love: his Master.
The face-to-face initiation between Master Dodd and his servant Quail is unbelievably moving, with Hoffman and Phoenix delivering their best performances to date.
Throughout the film, based on the story of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard, you never understand whether Mr Dodd fully believes in what he is preaching. Pushed by a fanatic wife (Amy Adams) and daughter, a man on the brink of losing himself finds the love of his life and a reason to go on.
Anger, drama, fanaticism, sexual tension, beautiful 70mm wide-shots and a stunning score: The Master is a masterpiece.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor