70th Venice Film Festival day seven: L’Intrepido and A Promise
The seventh day of screenings at the Venice Film Festival saw two European pictures: L’Intrepido by Giani Amelio (in competition) and A Promise by Patrice Leconte (out of competition).
Gianni Amelio is the last Italian director to win the Golden Lion in Venice – it happened 15 years ago with his memorable Cosí Ridevano – and his comeback was tipped as a potential favourite.
L’Intrepido is the story of an unemployed man (Antonio Albanese) whose job is to replace workers who skive from their jobs – the widest possible variety are seen here, from laundering to delivering pizza, from sewing to cleaning stadiums.
His wife has abandoned him for a richer man and his son is a divine saxophonist who suffers from panic attacks before going on stage with his band. An encounter with a depressed girl, Lucia, gives a new meaning to his life, but then something happens…
Albanese is the only reason why this picture is worth watching; he consistently delivers truthful and heartfelt interpretations. Once the fun of the first ten minutes of seeing him do lots of different jobs is over, the flatness of the script and poor performances of his co-stars overcome the feature.
A Promise by Patrice Leconte
A Promise is an adaptation of Sefan Zweig’s novel Journey into the Past (Widerstand der Wirklichkeit). The picture tells a complicated love story that tackles the challenge of long-term, long-distance separation in early 20th-century Germany.
Friedrich, a graduate of humble origins (Richard Madden), takes up a clerical post in a steel factory. Impressed by his work, the elderly owner Karl (Alan Rickman) takes him on as his private secretary. Karl is confined to his home due to his declining health, and the young man moves in to continue his work. There he meets the owner’s wife, Lotte (Rebecca Hall), a much younger woman, beautiful and reserved.
As time passes Friedrich falls passionately in love with Lotte but does not dare reveal his feelings. A romantic intrigue develops in this stifling bourgeois home, all looks and silences, without a single word or gesture of love.
French director Patrice Leconte adapted the story and for the first time makes a movie in English. A Promise is a classic romance enriched by modern camera movements – Leconte is the camera operator himself, one of very few directors to take on this role. With his oblique approach to direction, he gives a contemporary interpretation to very classic characters.
Even though the script is dull and uneventful at times, the strong acting and direction make the film worth watching till the end.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
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