Fai Bei Sogni (Sweet Dreams)
It’s a curious feeling to be moved to a state of utter despair and pity without feeling the urge to cry, and this is what makes Marco Bellocchio’s Sweet Dreams such a profound viewing experience. The film effectively conveys the emptiness of the protagonist, Massimo, following the death of his beloved mother and we watch as he grows from a nine-year-old boy to a man carrying the burden of grief on his shoulders. As a child he refuses to accept his loss and as a man he struggles to confront his past as he returns to his childhood home, which is now his responsibility to sell.
The feature is structured as a series of non-chronological moments in Massimo’s life as he struggles to make sense of his memories and find meaning in the tragic occurrence that has shaped him. Whilst the structure can at times evoke a sense of confusion in the viewer, this cinema adaptation of the true story published by journalist Massimo Gramellini feels stunningly real. This is highlighted in particular by a moment towards the end of the film following the narration of the protagonist’s heartfelt letter. It is addressed to a man troubled by the violent emotions he experiences towards his mother who, rather than taking her son into her arms following the narration, brings the audience crashing back to reality with a snide throwaway comment. Valerio Mastandrea plays Massimo with heartbreakingly empty desperation throughout whilst Bérénice Bejo adds a glimmer of hope with the smile that, when flashed for the first time, reminds the viewer that the movie they recognise her from is the 2011 silent epic The Artist.
Sweet Dreams also serves as a tribute to Italian culture and a nostalgic exploration of how important family and religion has been to Italy in recent history. With beautiful visuals and a nostalgic score, the film exudes sentimentality and rotates around notions of the love and rejection of a mother. Expect an emotional response inexplicably like no other.
Sweet Dreams is released nationwide on 24th February 2017.
Watch the trailer for Sweet Dreams here: