Fai Bei Sogni (Sweet Dreams)
6th October 2016 8.30pm at Curzon Mayfair
9th October 2016 12.15pm at Cineworld Haymarket
There are about four different films in Fai Bei Sogni (Sweet Dreams), wrestling for control of its soul. Each have their merits, each offer a good scene, but because the script isn’t structured well enough, it tears itself apart, and the whole thing becomes an exasperating exercise in bloated ambition.
At least it starts well. It’s 1969, and Massimo, a nine-year-old boy, is dancing with his mother to Danny & The Juniors’ Twistin’ All Night Long. She gets tired and has to sit down. Over the next few days, he begins to notice her staring vacantly into the distance; it’s not long before he’s woken in the middle of the night by a scream. He finds himself surrounded by adults and not one has the courage to tell him that she’s dead. So he doesn’t accept it. He doesn’t accept the priest’s promise that she’s gone to heaven. He wants his mother to wake up, and this haunts him for the rest of his life.
The narrative is chronologically fractured. 1969 gives way to 1999, where adult Massimo (Valerio Mastandrea) trawls through his old home in search of memories. Gaps are filled in along the way, segments in 1991 and 1995 that reveal Massimo’s days as a reporter, as he went from witnessing a (literal) political suicide to trawling through a brutal war zone.
Because this is directed by Marco Bellocchio, the man who made Vincere, the images look great. Unfortunately, they don’t help find the clarity that this epic needs. The opening timeline, where the child responds to the death of his mother with almost autistic difficulty, seems to set the tone, but the water is muddied by distractions, by detours into clubs and smart apartments that shed little light on Mastandrea’s uncharismatic worrying. Moments of subtlety are offset by scenes of explicit sentimentality, including a cheesy letter that Massimo publishes in the newspaper – the way people react to it you’d think it was the cure for cancer. Eventually, Bérénice Bejo shows up and offers something close to fun, but it’s too little, too late – the film has wandered off-course, like a child who’s lost its mother.
Fai Bei Sogni (Sweet Dreams) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch a clip from Fai Bei Sogni (Sweet Dreams) here: