Thursday, 5 September 2013

L'INTREPIDO - Review By Greg Klymkiw - #TIFF 2013 - Do you ever want to cold-cock someone who bugs you?

TIFF 2013
L'intrepido (2013) *
Dir. Gianni Amelio
Starring: Antonio Albanese, Livia Rossi, Gabriele Rendina
Review By
Greg Klymkiw

When someone really annoys you, tell me you don't want to just deck him, right? I mean, really fuckin' deck him - just cold-cock the sonofabitch with a solid roundhouse to the face. It's perfectly understandable, yes? Alas, life and art are the great divide. In life, if you encounter someone like that, you do what you've been put on this planet to do - you knock him flat on his ass. Art is another story. You're watching a movie and a character appears on-screen that you'd really prefer not to have to look at, never mind imagine that someone like him might actually exist. What're you gonna do? Put your fist through the screen? No! Of course not. That'd land you in the hoosegow for sure. Yet, here I was, watching Gianni Amelio's latest movie - bad enough, I know - and what, pray tell am I faced with? (Aside from another damn Gianni Amelio picture, that is.) I'm sitting in a theatre face to face with a character I want to punch in the face.

Let me then introduce you to Antonio (Antonio Albanese). This guy's a real piece of work. His eyes are always sparkling and he's usually got a stupid half-smile plastered on his face. Life has dealt the loser with more than his fair share of crummy cards, but he's so gosh-darn kind and cheerful all the time that your first impulse is to, well, you know - smash the fucker square in the face.

He's a great intellect, yet Italy is in such a financial mess that there's no decent place for a middle-aged man like him to ply any reasonable sort of craft. He works everyday like a mule at a myriad of menial jobs to keep himself going. His wife has left him recently - gee, I wonder why - and his only real hope is that his artiste son (who's also insufferably kind and positive) will hit the big time as a sax player.

Antonio is a "replacement" worker. A local gangster performs a much-needed service to the community and acts as a pseudo employment agent who plops losers like Antonio into a variety of jobs whenever a regular worker needs time off. The gangster, of course, takes a cut of the already low wages and even balks at paying up when he's supposed to.

No matter. Antonio is a happy fellow. Even when some scumbags steal pizzas out of his delivery container, he shrugs it off, goes back to the pizza joint, barters for more pizzas, delivers them to a bunch of old ladies in a sewing factory and upon realizing that he might have a problem getting the dough he's owed from these ravenously pizza-slurping harpies, he dazzles them with his charm and - God Help Me - his prowess at the sewing machine.


Where things get especially grotesque is when Antonio meets cute with a gorgeous young babe. Obviously, it's only in Italy (or a Gianni Amelio movie) where grinning, balding, middleaged losers with no secure employment seem to have no problem charming the pants off hot young fillies. Ah, sweet mystery of life. This, however, being a Gianni Amelio movie - he of the "I believe in the indomitable spirit of the EVERYMAN" school of proletarian boosting - it's not going to be all peaches and cream for our hero. Sweetness will be tempered with bitterness, but goddamnit, we're all going to learn a good lesson.

Frankly, the only lesson I want is how to cold-cock a movie character who lives on-screen and/or in the mind of the insufferable director who's foisted him upon us. I probably also need a lesson in avoiding films by directors I can't stand. Until then, maybe I'll just find someone on the street who bugs me enough to lay into him. Better yet, it'll be someone in a film festival line up, whacking me with his goddamn knapsack, shovelling granola down his throat and talking loudly with his detestable mouth open to his barefoot, granny-glasses-adorned hippie-chick girlfriend who smells like she hasn't seen a bathtub in weeks.

Yeah, that sounds good. It'll keep my sanity intact whilst keeping me out of the hoosegow for vandalizing a movie theatre screen by punching a huge hole in it.

"L'intrepido" is part of the TIFF Special Presentation series at the Toronto International Film Festival 2013. Visit the TIFF website HERE.