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Berlin Review: Paolo Taviani’s ‘Leonora Addio’

“Leonora Addio”
Umberto Montiroli

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani directed movies together from the early 1950s till Vittorio died in 2018, leaving his now 90-year-ancient brother to lift on alone. Leonora Addio, the second movie Paolo has made without Vittorio, is no longer handiest dedicated to him but picks up loads of the topics that ran by arrangement of their earlier work, including their enthusiasm for theater in frequent and the writings of Nobel laureate Luigi Pirandello specifically. The Berlin Film Festival competition entry looks and sounds sumptuous, but its two tales — both of which lift questions about what the living owe the ineffective — are disappointingly itsy-bitsy.

Pirandello wrote novels and poetry, but he became once most infamous as a playwright eager on theatrical trickery; this day, his handiest-identified play is Six Characters in Search of an Creator. Accordingly, Leonora Addio (the title is taken from one in every of his tales, about a lady who dies while singing) is filmed and performed with an operatic sense of artificiality.

It begins in Pirandello’s final in heart-broken health room, an substantial white room along with his bed in the middle and books lined up on a a long way-off wall; we may perhaps well well presumably additionally be on the stage of La Scala. Here is the first of many cavernous areas, shot in monochrome and lit for prime distinction, by arrangement of which the yarn of his demise and its aftermath will learn.

Pirandello died in 1936 as a declared supporter of Benito Mussolini’s authorities. Taviani shows some bumptious men in uniform declaring that he have to hang a Fascist funeral, but Pirandello himself left directions that there desires to be no ceremony; he wanted his physique cremated in a undeniable box and the ashes thrown to the four winds in Sicily, where he became once born.

He became once indeed cremated, controversially, but — officialdom being what it is — the ashes done up in an urn immured someplace in Rome. Powerful of the movie is dedicated to what Taviani describes in a myth declare-over as “a day shuttle dwelling that wasn’t clear-reduce.” It will select 10 years sooner than the author’s stays were decanted into a Grecian urn to be taken to Sicily. It will then select one other 15 years for a chosen sculptor to complete a suitably rusticated monument because the maestro’s final resting set apart. A long day shuttle dwelling, indeed.

Taviani extracts some depression comedy from this litter. A Roman public servant (Fabrizio Ferracane) charged with delivering the exhumed ashes to Sicily, initially by airplane — which doesn’t work, for the rationale that other passengers refuse to soar with a corpse, even one burnt to cinders — and then on a nightmare prepare mosey. His yarn is mingled with footage from as a lot as date neo-realist movies and with news footage showing crowds of the defeated; these glimpses of a recognizable previous, both in cinema and right existence, stride some potential to propping up the thin artifice of the central yarn.

A unexpected change from duration gloomy and white to paint takes us into the movie’s second yarn: an adaptation of a Pirandello yarn referred to as The Nail, about an Italian boy compelled to emigrate to Fresh York who inexplicably murders rather girl, after which he vows to talk about with the girl’s grave once a year once he’s released from detention middle. The Nail is constructed as a melodrama, with exaggerated camera angles, aggressively unsuitable backgrounds and dialogue as clunky as a clog dance. The honour with the snippets incorporated in the first yarn of movies such as L’Avventura makes one wince.

The Tavianis adapted several Pirandello tales for his or her movie Chaos in 1984. Why this yarn has been chosen to inspire-halt the yarn of the maestro’s ashes — which the brothers had deliberate to movie after they made Chaos, but didn’t — is mysterious. A shared elegiac mood? A clear-reduce tribute to Luigi Pirandello’s mountainous oeuvre? A promise by Paolo Taviani to undergo in thoughts his bask in misplaced maestro? No matter his causes, the vagueness of their connection has the unintended pause of developing both tales feel inconsequential. It is a pity that this kind of gorgeous movie is in the raze merely a curio: a memento of the Taviani brothers’ long and infamous profession.

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