Review: The Revolution
by Davide Abbatescianni
- The first work by Naples’ Joseph Troia marks a brave and original debut, shored up by convincing performances, watertight writing and an attentive directorial approach
The world premiere of The Revolution [+see also:
film profile], the debut feature film by young director Joseph Troia, which was artistically conceived within the film laboratory of Naples’ Accademia di Belle Arti - managed by filmmaker Stefano Incerti (Gorbaciof [+see also:
interview: Stefano Incerti
film profile], The [+see also:
film profile] Man of Glass) – took place at the Galway Film Fleadh. The film follows the ups and downs of three twenty-five-year-old university students from Naples: Raffaele (Vittorio Nastri), Ludovica (Giulia Schiavo) and Tommaso (Paolo Marco Caterino).
United in their extremely left-wing, political ideals and the acute nostalgia they feel for the student protests of '68 and '77, this group of friends-come-lovers will embark upon the dangerous path of armed struggle, which they believe is the only means possible of bringing about the “revolution” they so desire and of putting an end to the injustices ravaging the country since fascist times. However, during the first violent act they undertake, things take an expectedly dramatic turn, leading the three friends to take a long hard look at their own ideals and their own interpretations of justice.
The solid quality of the film can be attributed to three main factors: excellent acting, a highly attentive directorial approach down to the smallest of details and tension-filled dialogues which never fail to surprise. The performances of the three lead actors are hugely convincing and no doubt the result of an intense amount of teamwork. Even in the most intimate scenes –which there are rather a lot of, though all of them play an important role in plot development and are filmed with great sensitivity, never verging on vulgarity – Nastri, Schiavo and Caterino are always believable, conveying the spirit of their timeless, bohemian characters with aplomb; characters whom, on the one hand, we admire for their heartfelt desire for change, but whom we also despise for their dangerous obstinacy. Effectively, these three characters represent three very different revolutionary beings: one of working class descent who’s the direct victim of abuses carried out by those in power and who’s guided by a desire for revenge and redemption; one who’s from a more middle-class background and is driven by a genuine desire for change, but is unconvinced of the need for armed, violent revolt and; last but not least, one who’s more visceral, more physical and who’s clearly more interested in the polyamorous opportunities their action might bring.
There are no overly explicit references to the modern-day political situation in Italy, despite its potential to offer countless enemies of this “revolution”. But this was doubtless a deliberate and considered choice made by the director, as it ensures that the viewer stays focused on the story in hand – that of three young people who are pursuing a dangerous utopia and who are struggling to live in the modern world, with all its inequalities and contradictions.
Both Troia’s directorial approach and his writing stand out for a variety of reasons: for the many interesting choices he has made in terms of the films visuals (particularly the scene where the three characters converse in the bath), for the inclusion of many – always relevant - references to works and intellectuals who have an influence, for better or for worse, on the three characters’ actions (for example, in one scene we can make out a clip of Petri’s The Working Class Goes to Heaven in the background, and big authors such as Sartre, Pasolini and Gramsci are also named) and for the particular weight carried by Ludovica’s off-screen voice, which doesn’t just narrate the film, but also expresses crude judgements and thoughts on what the group is going through and their experience in political action.
In short, the film marks a very promising debut for a director who, despite his tender age, has clearly developed a profound understanding of film and the fine craft of acting. Armed with very few resources, Troia has succeeded in putting his own authorial stamp onto his work and has written a courageous story (which is sometimes discomforting and disturbing) which holds the viewer captive from the beginning through to the end; something which is rather rare in emerging Italian cinema of late.
(Translated from Italian)
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