Friday, 21 June 2019

Sydney Film Festival (18) - Barrie Pattison reviews DOLCE FINE GIORNATA (Jacek Borcuch, Italy/Poland, 2019)

It’s nice to see Krystyna Janda front and centre in a new movie made nearly forty years after her debut in Andrzej Wadja’s Czlowiek z marmuru/Man of Marble. She’s been about all that time -Mephisto, Elles and the rest - becoming a kind of scaled down Euro Meryl Streep.

Here she heads up a handsome Italian-Polish piece from countryman Jacek Borcuch whose career is largely in Polish TV and unknown to me. Their Dolce Fine Giornata is prime Festival fare. It’s what used to be called Radical chic - issues served up as entertainment or entertainment propping up issues, like the early films of Barbet Schroeder - very like the early films of Barbet Schroeder.

Jacek Borcuch
Here Janda is a famed Polish poet living in the lush Italian countryside of which we get some nice scenics of mist rising on the hills or the historic bell tower. Rumpled husband Antonio Catania shuffles round the elegant villa in old slippers and daughter, rising star Kasia Smutniak (Perfetti sconosciuti, which I always seem to be referencing) who manages to make her presence felt in an under-written part, has brought the family to support mum in her acceptance of the Nobel Prize for literature, the only award of any value she observes. 

Janda teaches grandson Wiktor Benicki to swear in Polish and value Frank Sinatra. Her guests troop out of the family home at dawn with suitably Fellini-esque music. Add in “a little crush” Krystyna has developed on spunky local Coptic restauranteur Lorenzo de Moor. All in all, Krystyna is living the fantasy life of her target audience or film festival subscribers.

About this time Muslim extremists zap Campo Fiore market in Rome killing tourists. If they’d made it the Bataclan attack we would have a different movie. Local feeling runs against refugees, so Krystyna elects to make the big gesture and turns down the award. She and her Arab squeeze go internet viral.

At this point the film establishes its story arc. Friendly police captain Vincent Riotta, who summoned eight officers with torches and a dog when Benicki went missing, now turns aggro. His own son has been beaten because of her campaign and he and the local mayor, who is up for re-election, have met hostility for nominating her. “Do you think you can say anything?”

Journalist Robin Renucci does an attack interview. Janda’s comfortable world is caving in on her. This is not something we are used to seeing in movies or any other place - Alain Cuny in (Pascal Aubier’s 1971 Valparaiso, Valparaiso maybe). It’s agreeable to face something not laid out on familiar lines, something that requires second thought.

That, the excellent performances and film craft make this one rewarding, along with the re-assurance of encountering Janda speaking three languages and still able to head up a substantial production.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.