Dir: Anna Negri. Italy. 2008. 96 mins.
Anna Negri's second film Riprendimi is a bittersweet comedy about the breakup of a relationship and the fallout for those involved. Offering intelligent commentary on the fickleness of young men and women today as well as many amusing insights into humans in romantic crisis, the film marks the emergence of a fresh new voice in Italian cinema.
After its world premiere in world cinema competition at Sundance last week, Riprendimi should score invitations to film festivals around the world and has the potential to be a minor arthouse hit, especially since Italy hasn't thrown out many too many new film-makers into the world in recent years.
Negri sets the story up as a documentary being made by Eros (Averone) and Giorgio (Fresi) about the unstable life of temp workers in the entertainment business. They are focusing on a young couple Giovanni (Foschi) and Lucia (Rohrwacher), both 30, who live together in central Rome with their one year-old son. He is an actor and she is a freelance film editor.
Eros and Giorgio are so convinced that their film will be a successful look at the insecurity of freelance employment that they are financing it with their own money, have rented out their house and have opted to live in their car for the duration of the shoot.
As soon as filming begins, however, Giovanni leaves Lucia and their son, saying that he needs time alone but really bored by the mundane routine into which their lives have fallen. Devastated, Lucia turns to her three best girlfriends who all assure her that he will come back, before telling the camera that he is gone for good.
Sure enough, the capricious Giovanni meets Michaela in a bar and instantly falls in love with her, believing that she will offer everything that Lucia cannot anymore.
The two film-makers split up. Eros is assigned to follow Lucia around as she struggles to juggle motherhood, attention from men, a temp job editing a film and Giovanni's perfidy. Meanwhile Giorgio follows Giovanni as he gets more involved with Michaela and decides to write his own performance piece about his break-up from Lucia.
Eros and Giorgio, however, soon become so wrapped up in the drama of the situation that their original mandate for the film becomes confused and Eros in particular develops a personal interest in his subjects.
Negri displays a knack for blending the often whimsical comedy of the film-makers and their creative dilemmas with the heartwrenching pathos of the breakup with all the hurt and misery it entails.
Radiant in what turns out to be the lead role is Rohrwacher, who made an impression in Daniele Luchetti's My Brother Is An Only Child last year. She shines as she takes her character on an arc from despair to rage to recovery. Foschi is also fine as the vain and callous actor who gets his comeuppance at the end when he discovers that his new girlfriend is pregnant.
The film is not strictly a mockumentary since, while it does use some of the handheld footage being shot by the film-maker characters, most of the drama is revealed by Negri's camera.
Adriana Chiesa Enterprises
From a story by Negri
Gian Enrico Bianchi
Roberto De Angelis