Look Up: The rooftop explorer
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Fulvio Risuleo's debut feature, selected at Rotterdam, is a road movie that pans out on the rooftops of a surreal and imaginary Rome, inviting you to be amazed
"We need wonder," we're told in Fulvio Risuleo's Look Up. The 26-year-old Roman director, awarded at Cannes in 2015 for his short film Varicella, finds his wonder on the rooftops of Rome, in his debut feature film presented last October at Rome Film Fest, in the Alice nella città section, and now premiering internationally at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in the Bright Future competition. A film that overflows with imagination, courage, and that, despite some weaknesses that are also apparent in previous films, especially in terms of the plot, clearly and determinedly expresses the young director's cinematic vision.
The film’s rooftop explorer is brought to life by Giacomo Ferrara, who leaves behind Spadino from the TV series Suburra to embody the character of a boy with an Elvis-style quiff, a little matter-of-fact, who one morning goes up to the roof of the bakery where he works to smoke a cigarette and finds himself experiencing a very surreal day, dragged into a whirlwind of bizarre and surprising encounters. It all starts with a seagull crashing onto a nearby terrace. Instead of going back to work, as his colleagues suggest, Teco decides to go and see what’s happened. From there, he jumps from roof to roof, crossing paths with nuns, robots, masked children, urban nudists, an old hermit, a beautiful parachutist, and many more, as if he’s in a sort of video game, passing from one checkpoint to the next.
And just like a videogame hero, we don't know anything about Teco, except that he's looking for something, probably his place in the world. We watch him immerse himself, with confidence and curiosity, in all kinds of situations, from a snail race, designing a space rocket, in the midst of fleeing humanity, to people who, for various reasons, hide and live in a parallel dimension. The screenplay, written by the director and Andrea Sorini, doesn’t stand out particularly thanks to its dialogue, which is fairly rudimentary, giving the impression that it was improvised in parts. However, the visual aspect is more engaging (photography by Juri Fantigrossi), thanks to some unique locations, the extravagant costumes and the lively and colourful representation of a "world above."
"There are things in the world that make no sense, yet they condition our lives," says a key character at a certain point in the film, and this is how, in the name of amazement and nonsense, Risuleo's first feature must be viewed. Because if there is a common thread in this weird 90-minute adventure, it's to be found precisely in its creative freedom, in the dreamy gaze of its author and in the invitation to use our imagination, to look up, over the rooftops of our cities, and beyond.
Look Up was produced by Revok Film with Rai Cinema. International sales are being handled by the French company MK2. Starring in the international cast is French actress Aurélia Poirier, Czech actor Ivan Franek, Swedish actress Lou Castel, and Spanish actor Emilio Gavira. The film’s hypnotic music is performed by American musician Sun Araw.
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