Altin in the city: the director
For some years now, Fabio Del Greco’s interesting artistic career has appeared before us, revealing a stubborn, obstinate, counter-current author, often able to make up for the very few means available with a rough and personal look at the surrounding reality.
The aftermath of him is a subjective look, somewhat disenchanted, on that metropolitan decay that frequently has a bitter counterpoint in the most empty and banal television mirages. In many of his previous works, not surprisingly, Del Greco also got involved as a leading actor, carving out around his characters the incurable contrast between legitimate but naive hopes for a better existence, and inevitable disappointments due to the false character and ephemeral of many human relationships.
Apart from the various short and medium-length films, this small authorial obsession seems to be present both in A Better Life (2007), his debut feature film, and in the subsequent Crazy World (2010).
With Altin in the city it seemed to us that we witnessed a growth, the affirmation of a more multifaceted and mature vision that already in the casting choices offers an interesting, almost emblematic “passing of the baton”.
A necessary premise is that Fabio Del Greco certainly likes returning to work with the same actors, a bit like “factory”: in the new film we find the seductive and magnetic Chiara Pavoni, already among the protagonists of Mondo folle, as well as the experienced Marcello Capitani.
The novelty is another: by partly abandoning the previous Nanni Moretti style, he is no longer the protagonist. Here the film-maker of Pescara origins limits himself to playing a small role.
In fact, it is he who plays the roommate and best friend of the key character of the whole story, played in turn by a young and extremely expressive Albanian actor, Rimi Beqiri, yet another male figure disoriented in today’s Italy (doubly disoriented, given the origins ) and thus destined to be shipwrecked in a world of false values.
With this is accomplished, who knows whether unconsciously or not, perhaps with a not entirely conscious self-irony, that ideal relay for which the most shrewd character played by Fabio Del Greco witnesses from afar, but with sincere empathy, the precipitate of the character by Rimi in a vortex of ephemeral temptations, linked to the myth of easy success. Rimi Beqiri is Altin.
A young Albanian who strives in a thousand ways, but who, in order to abandon his modest condition, after having already risked a lot to get to Rome, would accept any compromise. You understand this right from the initial scenes, which see him renounce probably more truthful, genuine relationships, to play a gigolo with some elderly woman and save some money.
But Rimi is also writing a novel in which he strongly believes, a novel in which he would like to allude in a finally sincere way to the dramatic arrival in Italy of him and of several other compatriots.
The real “pact with the devil” will therefore be leaving one’s painful work at the mercy of a tremendously cynical and kitsch literary “reality show”, whose perverse mechanisms were developed by Mara Le Monde, unscrupulous TV presenter (here too the fascinating and chameleonic Chiara Pavoni) who will soon drag Altin into a devious game with disturbing implications…
The style of the film
The parodic deformation of the television showbiz is a theme dear to Fabio Del Greco. Here, however, the filmmaker seems to have succeeded more than elsewhere in treading the grotesque, while at the same time finding a fertile crossroads with drifts of noir, oneiric, parodic, surreal cut.
It is precisely the protagonist’s dreams and hallucinations, especially when the emotional breakdown becomes dizzying, to illustrate in greater depth the problems of his experience, as well as the twisted dynamics that regulate his inner sphere. In this, the contribution of the young Rimi Beqiri was magnificent, called to embody a multifaceted, complex human journey, where we constantly pass from farce to drama.
Almost like a silent actor, his face returns, in the close-ups, reactions that in their perpetual oscillation between ambition, awkwardness, bewilderment and delirium now refer to comedy, now to a decidedly more restless mood.
This valid, positive descent into Altin’s contradictory path is well balanced, moreover, by the strong and unusual characterization given by Pavoni (and the director) to the character of Mara Le Monde: given the not exactly original themes, his character holds the confrontation precisely because in flashes it detaches itself from all the previous figures, equally histrionic but with more predictable, homologated features of television barkers polemically depicted on the big screen.
She is even painted here in an esoteric key, complete with witchcraft rituals performed in dark caverns! And this further extremeization of the discourse finds its legitimacy in the so inspired choice of locations, ranging from Ostia with its pine forest for the outdoors, to the incredible underground spaces of the Pulsating Lung in Rome, with the wonderful bionic creatures of the artist Ungheri reused in a filmic context.
Although the so self-sufficient nature of the project can make itself felt, even annoyingly, when one stops to consider some scene edited with a degree of brightness that is not always homogeneous or the fluctuating rendering of the sound, the same stylistic choices of the author are certainly not to be despise; with a hint of preference, on our part, for those underwater scenes included in the pre-final, with the protagonist’s dive into the water that almost seems to quote Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante.