Dir: Edoardo Winspeare | Italy / 110’ |cast: Gustavo Caputo, Antonio Carluccio, Claudio Giangreco, Celeste Casciaro
A cultured mayor, a semi-retired gangland boss and a troubled teen are three of the convincing characters in Edoardo Winspeare’s tender-hearted but rambling comedy drama that doesn’t know how to end. LA VITA IN COMUNE is set in the picturesque Puglian seaside town of Disperata that, contrary to its name, is a place that hasn’t been completely abandoned by God’s salvation, as we discover in this lyrical look at life after crisis.
Thoughtfully played by its cast of mainly newcomers LA VITA IN COMUNE is a humorous tale whose tender-hearted warmth comed from the lasting hope that literature, nature and animals can provide the power of healing for the human soul. Mayor Filippo Pisanelli (Gustavo Caputo) feels inadequate in his job of leading his depressed village towards the light, compensating with voluntary work while instilling an appreciation of poetry in the lost and lonely souls of recently released criminal Pati and his teenage son Biagetto, and ex-gangster brother Angiolino. Gradually these disenchanted men find their way back through his perseverance, and their belief in God.
The film opens as Pati Runza (Claudio Giangreco) is robbing a local petrol station killing a dog that attacked him and his brother in the process. He is taken to prison, while his brother Angiolino (Antonio Carluccio) gives Biagetto some toughening up lessons, including how to use a gun. There is also another man, who is central in all the action: the mayor Filippo Pisanelli (Gustavo Caputo). After being released, Pati is deeply affected by killing the dog and starts to dream that the animal has been sanctified in Heaven. Convinced that he has been touched by the hand of God through the dog’s death, he tries to become a better man, but Angiolino is not keen on the whole idea as he needs Pati’s help with another planned robbery. So Pati appeals to Pope Francis for support, and, low and behold, The Pope gives Angiolino a call, or so we are led to believe. Meanwhile, Pati’s estranged wife, Eufemia (Celeste Casciaro), enters the fray in a desperate attempt to knock some sense and normality into the menfollk.
Delicately captured in the rolling seascapes of Southern Italy’s stiletto, Winspeare shows the soft underside of a region normally protrayed with brutality and violence. Although the narrative drifts rather in the final stages there is much to be enjoyed in this often tougue in cheek ant-mafiosi drama.
VENICE FILM FESTIVAL | 30 AUGUST – 9 SEPTEMBER 2017