Recognised for his successful Mafia piece Gomorrah, director Matteo Garrone’s Reality is an intelligently composed and bitingly satirical film that also has the elements of a modern fairy tale.
Aniello Arena plays Luciano, a modest and simple fishmonger who also partakes in kitchen equipment related scams with his best friend and his faithful wife Maria. Urged by his young children and the rest of his seemingly endless family to enter the latest series of Big Brother, Luciano and his perception of himself and TV begin to change.
Charging head first into self-delusion and paranoia, Luciano falls prey to the promises of success which lead to drastic and unpredictable situations. His unshakable belief that fame will make life for him and his family better isn’t helped by the messianic figure of Enzo (Raffaele Ferrante), one-time winner of Big Brother and pursuer of media adulation. He is a caricature of the modern celebrity: stupid, brash and utterly talentless, illustrating the truth that Luciano recognises almost instantly: neither talent, intelligence nor good looks are necessary for success.
Thankfully, Reality is lashed with darkly comic overtones. It is still a serious film, and could easily have led to a misanthropic portrait of the fickle nature of humanity and society in general. Garrone has avoided this road to cynicism and instead offered likeable and charismatic characters who coexist with the film’s social commentary.
It’s easy to see why Reality won the Grand Prix accolade at Cannes. It is a darkly comic portrayal of a man descending into madness, in a society in which celebrities are adored like Gods and where fame promises fortune and opportunity. Reality is much more than just a caustic satire about the deleterious effects of the media. It is a brilliant and astute character study that leads to one of the most unbearably tense conclusions to have been on screen for a long time. Garrone has created a smart and witty parable for our time.
Reality is released nationwide on 22nd March 2013.
Watch the trailer for Reality here: