La Vita Oscena (The Obscene Life) Review (2014 Venice International Film Festival)

Posted 8 years ago by myetvmedia

The Obscene Life is a very contemporary, relevant and touching coming of age story uniquely told from the perspective a young man who is about to experience great tragedy. Set in a modern North American city suburb, this is not a story of boy meets girl but boy meets world. Andrea (Clément Métayer) is a high school student and a poet, who lives in a wonderful world of semi detachment from reality, preoccupied by the things most teenage boys are. Clément Métayer captures the young spirit and carefree attitude of Andrea, an only child whose idyllic world is suddenly shattered by the diagnosis of his mother with cancer and then the unpredictable death of his father. His father’s passing is painful enough but to know he is losing his mother is beyond grief for him. His hippie mother, played by Isabella Ferrari, is the embodiment of love and laughter. When his mother dies, Andrea misses his mother’s funeral not out of lack of respect but because his is so disoriented by his loss and his sudden total aloneness.

The immensity of the grief that envelops him is what the rest of the movie is all about. He retreats from the world entirely, closing himself in his house, with brief excursions on his skate board to secure drugs, alcohol and sex to obliterate the pain. Life crashes down upon the orphaned young man and he suffocates under the intensity of the pain. He decides to commit suicide in the fashion of Georg Trakl, his favourite poet, using 17 grams of cocaine, which he must first procure. The visual, psychedelic journey in the film is powerful and very compelling, alternating between Andrea’s fantasy world and the real fate that has befallen him.

Directed by Renato De Maria, the film is based on the novel by Aldo Nove, whom he co-wrote the screenplay with. La Vita Oscena (The Obscene Life) is a highly experimental film which took some years to bring to the screen because of the graphic nature of this visionary tale. De Maria says he was struck by the beauty of the language and the boldness Aldo Nove had used in telling a story of his own life; its crudeness and yet its poetry. Translating the artistic experience into a film was challenging but the story was so compelling that it brought Italian screen stars Riccardo Scamarcio, who also appears in “Pasolini” at the festival, and Isabella Ferrari on board as producers. It also stars Miriam Giovanelli and Iaia Forte.

An adoring crowd of fans and supporters were there to celebrate the premiere of the film screening in the Horizons section of the 71st Venice Film Festival. It travels next to Toronto TIFF14. The movie is narrated by Fausto Paravidino and otherwise there is no dialogue. This film is worth seeing amongst other things for its ground-breaking and unusual filmmaking techniques.

Moira Romano

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