By adapting one of his novels, Paolo Genovese returns to talk about second chances and tackles an uncomfortable topic like suicide head on. In the cast of the film, Toni Servillo, Margherita Buy, Valerio Mastandrea, Sara Serraiocco.
In English there are three words that define loneliness: aloneness, loneliness e solitude. The first alludes to physical loneliness, the second to emotional loneliness and therefore to a sense of failure, of abandonment. Finally, the third is a positive solitude, which coincides with self-realization, calmness and maturity, as well as with “quality time”.
The characters of The first day of my life they experience all three solitudes and, thanks to a deus ex machina with a tired face and wrinkled clothes, they try to pass from the second to the third. Before the arrival of their imperfect and jazz-loving ferryman, they all gave up a foolish life, which deprived them of affection, certainty and the courage to express their needs. And so here they are: some on a bridge, some on the ledge of a building, some in a car with a gun pressed under their chin, some in their bedroom with a tray of donuts that makes their blood sugar skyrocket.
But for Arianna, Napoleon, Emilia e Daniele, which are the result of a wild imagination, someone has invented a last chance: 7 days in which they will have to decide whether to really kill themselves or go back to the instant that preceded the insane act and think again. This someone is Paul Genoese, the Italian director who loves to talk about second chances and new perspectives, even at the cost of going beyond the boundaries of reality by embracing magic. Welcome then, ne The first day of my life angels, invisibility, the impossibility of eating and fragments of one’s future projected in an abandoned cinema, which is a metaphor for cinemas that are still too empty, which inevitably remind us that we have lived in lockdown. And precisely the lockdown is a “circumstance” that cannot be taken into account when watching the film, because the feeling suspended between life and death, the deserted streets and squares and the absence of hope are palpable in a story in images crossed by melancholy and even more by nostalgia, which makes melancholy sweet and even more poignant. Genovesemoreover, he filmed during the pandemic, letting the bewilderment of his actors correspond to that of their characters, annihilated in the face of a mocking and absurd fate.
Finally there is the rain, dark and insistent, made up of tears that the four would-be suicides have not yet cried. It is a rain, needless to say, that remembers Blade Runner, even if the scenario is not futuristic. Rather it is gloomy. We are in Rome, but only those who know the city well will understand it, recognizing Piazza Vittorio and the streets around Termini station, illuminated by a photograph that is sometimes livid, which turns into cold blue colors to give way, from time to time, to a warmer light.
The director of Perfect strangers and takes head on one of the great removed of our Catholic rather than secular society, who identifies suicide as an act of revolt against God, rather than a free choice, a gesture of protest, the maximum expression of free will. He shoots his characters with more than one camera Genovese, proving once again that he is a good filmmaker, and at first he prefers interiors: the passenger compartment of an old Volvo where the car radio swallows cassettes, rooms of a two-star hotel where even the flowers are faded, a few bars and restaurant. In short, we are far from Immature, and the impression one gets is that of a change of pace that arises from a need for analysis and perhaps self-analysis. The effect is very powerful, and since we are talking about pain, each actor works with subtraction, starting with Margherita Buy it’s yes Valerio Mastandreathe first grappling with a woman who fears losing the dull pain she feeds on and which will soon turn into a sense of emptiness, the second suffering from a life ache, from a spleen increasingly suffocating. And if the Emilia Of Sara Serraiocco it is measured against the incapacity to come to terms with an increasingly competitive world, through the small Daniele (Gabriel Cristini) the theme of imperfect parenting makes its way.
Paul Genoese he doesn’t judge, he doesn’t teach, even if his gaze peeks into the listening plans of an impeccable Tony Servillobut at a certain point it seems to need air and opens the windows wide, opens the cages of its four dead man walking and lets in just hope, which is a pleasant breeze, and even happiness, which for Napoleon & Co., but also for many of us, it is nothing more than a small house by the sea and a friend who cooks pasta with clams for us.
Il First day of my life is not a self-help manual on “nos that teach you how to live” or “how to strengthen self-esteem”, but, through its crumpled angel who asks “Permission?”, it suggests that, if the present oppresses us, the future may have good things in store for us. But above all, the film intends to reiterate that no one, absolutely no one, saves themselves.
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