The Italian Pastry Chef: a sweet, sweet film noir
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Luigi Sardiello’s second feature film, starring Antonio Catania, is a border film noir, because it is verging on other genres, as well as because borders play a central role in the story, both geographically and morally.
To make something sweet means making a world into something better than what it is. There is perfection and order in a cake. This is what defines Achille’s life in The Italian Pastry Chef [+see also:
interview: Luigi Sardiello
film profile] by Luigi Sardiello: order. Chosen as the opening film for the fourteenth edition of the European film festival in Lecce (8-13 April 2013), after being presented in its world premiere at the 2012 Annecy festival, the director of Piede di Dio [+see also:
film profile]’s second feature film is a border film noir, because it is verging on other genres, as well as because borders play a central role in the story, both geographically and morally.
"If you go beyond the border, there’s no turning back," is the theme throughout the film. And that is the way that a candid, melancholic, and apparently apathetic Achille leads his life. Despite himself, the character, played by perfectly suited Antonio Catania , finds himself trapped in a set of unexpected circumstances. He is a pastry chef in a Southern Italian village, but does not like being called master. He makes his pastries as he listens in on cooking lessons in German (the language he feels best represents order). He shows almost inhuman discipline: a diabetic, he prepares his succulent sweets without ever trying them, and all he ever eats is plain pasta and boiled potatoes.
He enters a sumptuous villa to deliver pastries and ends up exiting with a dead body and a gun pointed at his head. The order is to cross the national border and hide the body. Once more, he has nothing to do with the decision being made. It is made for him. Just like when his father, as a child told him: "we can’t have sweet things, but we make them for others to bring something sweet into their lives." The same happens when he takes on someone else’s identity and finds himself in the possession of an exorbitant sum of money. The same happens when he kills someone. The decision is never his own. Up until a surprising and liberating epilogue.
Film noir elements abound. Changes in personality, financial tricks, a femme fatale (Rosaria Russo), an evil character (Ennio Fantastichini) and a chasing policeman (Sara D'Amario). The director, who is also a screenwriter, adds a sprinkling of irony, a little surreal and a good dose of reflection on life. The whole thing is mixed in with deep visual style, dramatic music (by Andrea Terrinoni), creating a melange, which albeit not perfect, is certainly full of personality.
(Translated from Italian)