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Italiano medio: Between indifference and social activism – that's your average Italian


- The long-awaited big-screen directorial and acting debut by TV and internet star Maccio Capatonda is released on 29 January via Medusa, which produced it together with Lotus

Italiano medio: Between indifference and social activism – that's your average Italian
Maccio Capatonda in a scene from Italiano medio

It wasn’t an easy challenge to overcome: transferring a phenomenon like Maccio Capatonda and his parade of characters to the world of cinema without stumbling into a series of sketches and straying too far into crudeness. While the first obstacle has been well and truly surmounted, the second has been slightly less so: Italiano medio [+see also:
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(lit. “Average Italian”) – the big-screen debut by TV and internet star Marcello Macchia (his real name), developed from the video of the same name that went on to achieve cult status on YouTube – crams his array of masks into a well-structured story (the screenplay was written by six people, including the director himself), but sometimes culminates in a quest to achieve comic effect. Nevertheless, through all its witty remarks and puns, it excels thanks to its originality and inventiveness.

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Giulio Verme (Maccio) grew up in a family full of loutish, politically apathetic telly addicts. In contrast, however, he develops a strong sense of morals, and an unusual awareness of the environment and animal rights. On the cusp of his forties, however, he is feeling immensely frustrated because he takes a look around and sees nothing but people who couldn’t give a damn, carnivores and a population obsessed with their smartphones (even the homeless guy in the street has a tablet). What’s more, he is unable to do anything to save the world, other than taking care of the recycling in a waste sorting facility on the outskirts of Milan. But one of his old schoolmates (his cohort Luigi Luciano, better known as Herbert Ballerina) has the answer to all of his woes: a pill that, should he consume it, will mean that instead of him using 20% of his brain, like everyone else, he will be using just 2%. That will therefore cause him to stop thinking about world hunger and global warming, enabling him to concentrate on himself and his most fundamental needs – in other words, women, pulled-pork sandwiches and high-performance cars. 

But which is the real Giulio Verme? “Giulio is a hero trapped between social activism and being society’s reject, a sly hero,” explains Capatonda. “What I’ve made doesn’t attempt to cause offence to the average Italian, but rather to be a personal and stinging view of two extremes, two overarching categories: the person who couldn’t care less and the socially active individual, who each have their shortcomings.” Indeed, there is no shortage of satire targeting people’s green conscience and the whole business that revolves around it, in addition to the irony aimed at trashy TV and fake celebrities. And while Giulio’s two different personalities struggle with each other through a rivalry that is also visual – which sees his activist version subjected to washed-out cinematography and the vulgar version all lit up and colourful – the resolution is to be found in compromise. Because “the average Italian is not the boorish one, but rather the middle-of-the-road one, the one who gets married and visits prostitutes, and who claims to be a vegan and then goes and scoffs a ham sandwich”. The Italian for whom everything, and the mirror opposite of everything, is possible. The film is released in 400 theatres on 29 January via Medusa, which produced it together with Lotus.

(Translated from Italian)

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