The plot of Slow life
Lino Stella, the protagonist of slow life, the new film by Fabio del Greco, is employed in a municipal library. A permanent job that the mirage of millions of people. But for some time he has not been able to stand his working days, he feels stressed out and takes a period of vacation to devote himself to his main passion for drawing comics. He wants to take advantage of the free period to devote himself to his passion, draw comics, relax, play with his turtle, see his girlfriend. But the society around him seems to be plotting against his relaxation plan.
The first alarm comes from one of his colleagues: knowing that Lino takes advantage of his free time to draw and sell comics, he warns him: as the owner of a permanent public job he cannot do it. He cannot have any other income if he is an employee of the state.
This affirmation resonates as a deprivation of personal freedom and acts as a beginning to the whole story: man is not free to pursue what he likes most and what really interests him because he is inserted in an absurd mechanism legitimized by bureaucracy and by law. .
Lino Stella tries to sell his comics but nothing seems to give him satisfaction. The publisher, more interested in the porn movies he watches in his office, demeans his work: they are superhero comics that he believes have no commercial potential, too dark.
Regaining freedom and time
Fabio del Greco, born in 1974, independent filmmaker since the age of 12, makes films with a creative freedom that would be difficult to obtain within official productions. While the directors who work in the traditional circuit struggle to find the funds and make the films, Not to mention the distribution, Del Greco makes a film a year, touching on the issues that interest him most: the meaning of life, manipulation and conditioning. of the individual, the world of interiority and spirit.
The director’s gaze in Slow Life focuses on the microcosm of the condominium where the protagonist lives. A small piece of society that re-proposes the same dynamics that exist on a larger scale. The intrusiveness of the manager who decides what should and should not be done and denies the existence of a cockroach infestation, the old lady downstairs who only talks to her cats, a real estate agent willing to do anything what to have a new apartment in his portfolio to sell.
Slow life: in search of a quiet life
With irony and a grotesque style, the director tells us in Slow life a world of selfishness and lack of communication between individuals in a mechanized and bureaucratized world. The tenants of the condominium always appear locked behind their doors or behind the bars of the railings of a window. A way of life that produces conflict and suffering.
The postman also enters the scene: a man who takes a sadistic pleasure in delivering fines and tax bills in the neighborhood. Lino is one of its main victims. Although Lino barricaded in the house refuses to answer the sound of the intercom, the postman slips several tax bills and fines, making them sneak under the door. Lino begins to lose patience and his holidays are colored black: he calls the traffic police office to protest because he has already paid those fines. But the policewoman who answers with an automaton’s voice warns him not to raise his voice: his name is already registered in their archives as someone who doesn’t want to obey the rules.
Slow life against productivity, state and bureaucracy
This moment of rupture is the first in a long series: Lino understands more and more clearly that there is no possibility of dialogue with these “impersonal representatives” of society. There is only a Kafkaesque mechanism that seems to have been designed specifically to crush the individual, the bureaucracy, the rules, the state, greed, money as the only parameter that regulates everything.
The real estate agent who intrusively rings his door can only use the predatory instinct to sell: he doesn’t think twice about using the wound of Lino’s family mourning to have a few more chances of closing a deal. The film turns into a grotesque Home Invasion, or you could even say a home Western. Lino Stella I have to defend his home from invaders at all costs as we defend ourselves from attacks by the Indians. And its protagonist is also transformed, internally and externally.
A mix of genres to tell the slavery of modern life It is
difficult to label this new film by Fabio Del Greco with a single genre. It starts out as a funny comedy with grotesque and surreal tones, at times it becomes an existential drama with an undertone of social criticism until it turns into a thriller. All these genres converge in the ending which looks more like a moral fairy tale and which takes a total detachment from the events that happened.
Slow Life is the story of a man in whom many will recognize themselves: a calm man who just wants to be left in peace and regain possession of his freedom and his time. But in the society we live in, taking back life seems like an unattainable dream. It is a no holds barred war between the individual, his aspirations, and the selfishness and arrogance of the “invaders”, driven by the madness we are used to taking for granted every day.
Bills, fines, condominium and municipal rules, aggressive sellers, bullying police. The power and arrogance of the state that ignores the individual if not to harass him with taxes, rules, and duties, where sometimes honest citizens turn into criminals, and vice versa. Where consumerist greed and capitalism seem to be part of people’s DNA with no possibility of redemption.
Personal relationships are shattering under the weight of these insurmountable mechanisms. Cartoonist Lino Stella is destined to see his house turn into a prison and meet his dark side.
At first realistic, the style of the film becomes more and more surreal with the passing of the minutes, as if the loss of the protagonist’s sense of reality reflects the evolution of the story. The images are distorted, the photography becomes dreamlike and on. The ending of Slow Life is not expected, and even more original is the epilogue of the film, which also transforms its meaning into a moral apologue.
Interview with the director
How did the idea of Slow Life come about?
I believe that the desire to live a slow quiet life compatible with the rhythms of nature and our body is a frustrated desire of millions of people. We are forced by society to a life of productivity that makes us lose sight of the most important things: enjoying our time which is the most precious asset we have ever. The idea of life that society offers us today is largely an aberration. Find a safe job and buy a house, pay your mortgage month by month. Be satisfied with the summer holidays and give up on ourselves to satisfy the demands of civil society as citizens, forgetting our true being. Choosing the path of competitiveness and it has happened at all costs even if it is not compatible with our personal growth.
In Slow life, however, there is also a dark and genre component.
Yes, I thought I’d talk about these issues through the genre and its darker elements. In reality, slow life retains this peculiarity of my other films of being something in its own right, of not methodologically applying codes of any kind. The thing that lately has been more congenial to me is to use a mix of genres without worrying too much about giving the audience a well-defined prototype of a film. What interests me most to do through cinema is to carry out my personal research, and subsequently share with the public those fragments of truth that I can find.
In your opinion, is society changing for the better or for the worse?
Both things, in a different way. In the movies, however, it is much more interesting to deal with the worst side, the so-called dark side. A film is always born from conflicts, every cinematic story is a battlefield. Without conflict there is no film and somehow there is not even life. I train and always enjoy observing the worst side of events, as opposed to the one that supports positive thinking. I have long seen a spirit of oppression, intolerance and selfishness that seems to characterize the age in which we live. People no longer have respect for their neighbors, they are capable of killing for a parking lot, they live in indifference. He seems to have no more interest, love or simple curiosity towards others. And for the State, individuals simply seem not to exist: taxes and the payment of fines, sometimes unjustly inflicted or invented out of thin air, are the only moment of contact between the individual and the state. Bureaucracy, indifference and greed turn people into monsters. Escaping this mechanism caused by a society that was badly conceived from its roots can be very difficult and complicated. And that’s what the protagonist of my film would like to do.
How did you choose the cast of Slow life?
After many meetings with various potential actors for the lead role, I chose Alessandro Macaluso even though he had never shot even a short film, for a question that cannot be explained rationally. First of all, the fact that he was a cartoonist willing to insert part of his life story into the dramatic structure of the film seemed to me to enrich the plot in the right sense. Second, his acting, different from that of many professional actors, seemed more natural and spontaneous to me: I tried to make sure that he was as much himself in front of the camera as possible, that there was little difference between actor and character. To do this, we rewrote the script together, adapting it to his personality, his activity as a cartoonist, and we added that they had a sense that went beyond fiction.
It is a way of working that I often apply in my films: whenever possible I try to minimize the distance between cinematic fiction and life. However, this is not a documentary approach, so far I have almost exclusively made fiction films. The conflicts of the film story and those of the protagonist, even if they are inspired by his real life, at some point must explode in their extreme consequences. After all, when you make a film you are looking for just that: to go into the extreme territories of human experience. Whoever interprets a film structured in this way has a great chance: to look at oneself from the outside, to examine one’s own conflicts with detachment, to stage a sort of therapeutic psychodrama.
In the case of Slow life, my and Alessandro’s visions coincided, we both wanted to tell the same thing: an unjust and alienating society where the freedom and creative aspirations of the individual are annihilated, a world where indifference and intolerance are on the agenda. . We also agreed to tell it in a grotesque, funny, dark but also light way. I wanted to make a kind of fairytale but I realized that with Alessandro I could add clearer thriller nuances that would improve the project.
Paolo Di Gialluca is an actor with whom I have already collaborated in the film The smartphone woman, and he is one of those few actors who can offer you a purely cinematic acting, who knows how to move and create images through his own physicality. 99% of the actors have mostly theatrical experiences and completely ignore the world of moving images.
Another actor of the cast with whom I have already worked in the film Altin in the city, of which he was the protagonist, is Rimi Beqiri, whose way of working I already knew well. Then there is Chiara Pavoni, who has acted in practically all my films, and Roberto Pensa, with whom I often collaborate. Maria Grazia Casagrande, on the other hand, I met her on the occasion of the film The smartphone woman in which she played the role of the bully teacher who does bullying. Alexandra Maravia has also appeared in many of my films since my first feature film, a 2007 black and white noir titled A Better Life, which continues to be seen a lot on streaming platforms, especially in the United States.
The photography was curated by Daniele Franceschini, with whom I made three films, lecturer at the Roberto Rossellini Institute of Cinematography. In the final part, shot indoors at night, he managed to invent a very interesting artificial lighting. A kind of quite complex scenes to make.
And how Slow life distribution will take place?
Slow life will be distributed worldwide through streaming platforms, in World premiere on Indiecinema. We have been waiting a long time for the reopening of the cinemas but at the moment despite the famous date of April 26th has passed for a few days, almost no cinema has decided to reopen. And unfortunately, some merchants have already told me that they will not reopen. The cinema sector has been practically razed to the ground by a government which, by boasting in the media, has actually let many sectors go bankrupt with ridiculous financial aid. Let’s get ready for the archaeological visits to the cinemas with the guides who will explain to us: “Once upon a time, strange rituals were held here …” We still hope to be able to make an exit in the theater as soon as possible. In the meantime it will be possible to enjoy the film in your home cinema.