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“I’m the labourer, my wife is the designer”

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Sergio Castellitto • Director


- The director and actor Sergio Castellitto talks about his new movie, Nessuno si salva da solo, his third adaptation of a novel by his wife Margaret Mazzantini. In cinemas from 5 March

Sergio Castellitto  • Director

Delia and Gaetano are a young separated couple with two young sons and their holidays to organise. She (Jasmine Trinca) is a biologist and nutritionist who suffered from anorexia; he, (Riccardo Scamarcio) a laid back TV programme screenwriter. They meet one night for dinner to decide how their children will spend the summer. But they’re only on the starters when mutual anger and accusations take over. Why did it end? Whose fault is it? Who betrayed whom? In this way, via long flashbacks, we retrace Delia and Gaetano’s story of love and disaffection, from the moment they met and the passion of the initial years, to the routine of being parents, the furious arguments and the contempt. Nessuno si salva da solo [+see also:
making of
interview: Sergio Castellitto
film profile
(lit. No One Survives Alone) (an Indiana and Wildside production with Rai Cinema and Alien Produzioni, in cinemas from 5 March with Universal) is director-actor Sergio Castellitto’s third cinematic adaptation of a novel by his wife Margaret Mazzantini, after Don't Move and Twice Born [+see also:
interview: Sergio Castellitto
film profile

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Cineuropa: For the first time you haven’t made the screenplay. For this third adaptation you have entrusted it entirely to your wife. Why?
Sergio Castellitto: In reality it has always been like that, writing is Margaret’s field. Certainly, I play a solid part in it, I set the timing, but I’m the labourer, she’s the designer. She’s the only one who really knows the characters, the network of human relationships and behaviours. No director can be more precise. I’m given a screenplay, I take it, I open it, I close it, I tear it up and I replace it. The screenplay is locked, but inside that cage you can move around and change things, it has to be kept really living. For starters, film is written, then you shoot, perform, edit etc. 

Of the three novels by Margaret that you’ve adapted to film, this is the closest to you and to all of us, as parents, a couple…
This is a movie based on the book by Margaret where there’s less emphasis on the plot; human relationships are at the centre here. We thought a lot about the theory after the book was written. A year ago I re-read it by chance and my eye fell on a phrase (“the mistake was thinking you could find everything in one person”), that’s where I found the key to the couples’ crisis. 35 year-olds, the generation of the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall and September 11, identify with the toil of creating a project that falls apart because of unsuitability rather than due to a lack of love. But even older generations see something in it that, in one way or another, affects them. Then a 20-year-old sees their future in it, not without some concern. 

The restaurant and the flashbacks. What film structure did you have in mind?
The movie has a wonderful theatrical structure: the restaurant and the home are like stages. The movie is structured into scenes; I don’t use three scenes to say the same thing. One scene narrates the birth of Cosmos who is the son of romance and love; another is about Nico who is the son of neurosis… The film has a precise structure: the things you once loved become the things you hate, the things that made you laugh now embarrass you, the body that you so desired, you can’t stand it anymore… 

Did you immediately think of Jasmine Trinca and Riccardo Scamarcio?
Their talent as actors really shines and their humanity, their 35 or so -year-old fragility, perfectly suits the characters. I chose exactly the actors that I wanted. It was an extraordinary opportunity for them to understand things about themselves. What’s more: this is a political film, because there’s nothing more political than our intimacy. The crisis has destroyed the economy, but it has also changed peoples’ sexuality, people don’t want to make love because they’re depressed, they leave home, they say “I don’t love you anymore” because they’re worried. In the strange, deadly yet extraordinary nucleus called family that we must all contend with, Delia and Gaetano thought that they were different, that they could cope and yet even they got screwed. 

And the cameo by singer-songwriter Roberto Vecchioni, how did that come about?
It’s linked to the music selection. In the movie, in addition to Arturo Annecchino’s piano, I chose poets, storytellers, every so often there’s a song that’s like a page turning: Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Asaf Avidan, Amedeo Minghi, Lucio Dalla… I wanted the movie’s structure to resemble a song, the restaurant is a refrain, you always return to it but each time it’s sung in a different way. Lots of actors could have given a beautiful performance in Roberto’s role, but he had that panic of never having done it before, that freshness and integrity … and he’s a poet too.

(Translated from Italian)

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