Filippo Timi is a brave father in Foreign Bodies
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Discovered in competition at the Rome Film Festival, the film directed by Mirko Locatelli, tells the story and fragility of a man battling with the grave illness of his young son
A man alone with a young child in his arms in a department of paediatric oncology. This image, witnessed by the director Mirko Locatelli and his wife screenwriter Giuditta Tarantelli years ago, was the starting point for the touching story of a father battling the illness of his young son. Foreign Bodies [+see also:
interview: Mirko Locatelli
film profile] (I corpi estranei), first Italian film in competition at the eighth Rome International Film Festival (8-17 November 2013), shines a light on parenting, its fragility and loneliness. It moves away from a focus on the person who is ill and focuses on the caretaker, sharing his hopes and pains. “So often the really ill ones are the parents who are not really taken care of themselves,” the director says. “Illness becomes a pretext to tell the story of human fragility.”
For an hour and a half, the camera stays next to Antonio (Filippo Timi), in Milan to take care of his child who is just a few months old and has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. His wife has stayed at home in Umbria to take care of their other two children. We follow Antonio in his daily life, as he makes phone calls to his wife and struggles to remember the words of prayers. Parents of the sick cross paths in the corridors of a hospital. They look at each other from behind closed doors. They are fearful and lonely souls, “foreign bodies” fighting for survival – for their own as well as for their dear ones. One in particular: northern African Jaber (Jaouher Brahim), who is taking care of a dear friend in hospital with cancer. He seeks contact out with Antonio, but the latter – a silent and miserly man – refuses to reciprocate.
In this manner, Locatelli’s film also tells the story of diffidence, the fear of the other, which follows a path of acceptance and human solidarity, because suffering is the same for everyone. And some come out of hospital victorious, others don’t. Timi’s natural demeanour in his role of brave father is extraordinary: “with a child, you cannot fake a relationship,” the actor explains. “It is the most documentary-like film I have ever made. I never had to worry about acting, also because acting that kind of pain is impossible. I just tried to be myself.”
Foreign Bodies is a measured film, of a few words, in which pain is maintained. It is a modest film, which risks being a little monotonous, but through this also manages to be respectful and truthful. Produced by Strani Film with the support of the Magica Cleme Foundation, which offers entertainment and support outside of hospital doors to sick children and their families.
(Translated from Italian)