Reality (Matteo Garrone, 2012): Italian | Neapolitan | English | Latin

Reviewed by China Rose.  Viewed at AFI Fest 2012.

Reality was a superbly crafted and extremely entertaining show about a show! Or rather about a man, a working class Neapolitan fish monger, who wants to become a celebrity on a show. It begins as a fantasy and ends where fantasy and reality meet. So to me this was superb scriptwriting for that reason. It was nicely wrapped up and had lots to grow and know in between. There is a subtlety to this films under current that drew me in. But the tone was a tad off. Kinda too slow in some part where the Protag is getting overly obsessed where the camera stays too long on short focus pulls, that are meant to be reflective but get a bit boring. As the film progresses our lead character Luciano obsesses and so the story goes. What was so appealing to me as a viewers was the exquisite cinematography. The heavy use of stark contrast in the use of color  tells us early in the film our hero may not get what he wants.

The film tries to convince us he will win but soon the odds work against him and he fails to become a contestant. In the meantime Luciano’s family is dysfunctional in the extreme. They egg him on then step back and wag their finger when he goes off the deep end and sells his business and gives way everything he owns.  There is a superb message in this film for the culture of a country left wanting. Really, in “reality” everyone wants only for their darling Luciano (protagonist) to be happy.

As Luciano goes over the edge the camera angles get distorted, short focus pulls draw us in and stark, contrasty colors pop and excite us through his journey of self discovery. The obsession that separates Luciano from his family (drama, drama and more drama)  is really meant to include him, so we get some hard pressed irony in this films storyline. The cinematic elements were seamless with sound, music, staging, costumes and make-up made to fit the place (Naples), theme  (reality), and the time, the setting is ultra modern with heavy use of technology. I love this movie. It was bold and brilliant and felt like a modern version of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. This film mimicked using a male protagonist that skirts the edges of a possible career in the limelight as protagonist Luciano takes and makes his chances to be a part of something he only feels on the fringes.



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