Nanni Moretti (The Son’s Room directs and co-writes this lightly comic drama about director Margherita (Margherita Buy) trying to shoot her latest film whilst her mother Ada (Giulia Lazzarini) is dying. She has to continuously jump between controlling the cast and crew on set and visiting Ada’s bedside. Not helping matters is the arrival of her film’s star, Barry Huggins (John Turturro). A brash American actor trying to flex his acting muscles in Italy on a politically conscious movie, Barry continuously causes problems, through forgetting or misreading lines or generally being a diva.
I didn’t get into this at all. The main problem is just how bland it is. It looks bland for one, shot like a TV programme with very flat lighting and uninspiring camerawork. I found the story and the characters dull too. The impending death of Ada is moving, but the writing is so blunt it had the feel of an afternoon TV weepy. I understand the plot comes from Moretti’s own experiences, which adds an extra dimension to it, but taken on its own merits, the film was very weak.
Turturro as Barry is the film’s saving grace. His scenes are enjoyable and he injects some life into proceedings. However, as fun as his performance is, we’ve seen this kind of broad big American star stereotype before and the character here doesn’t have enough depth or subtlety to stand out amongst what has come before.
So the film failed on most counts for me. It’s close to two hours long and I’d pretty much given up on it after the first half, so I was just clock watching for the last hour. It’s been picking up some good reviews elsewhere, so maybe I’m missing something, but I get the feeling critics are over praising the film due to its autobiographical context. That’s not enough to make a dull film worth recommending in my eyes though.