Alaska: An epic love story
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Elio Germano and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey play the leads in Claudio Cupellini’s new film, an Italian-French co-production that was unveiled at this year’s Rome Film Fest
Claudio Cupellini brings us a story of love, solitude, ambition and violence, halfway between a fairy tale and a tragedy, with his new and well-structured film Alaska [+see also:
film profile], the third and final fictional film to feature in the Official Selection of the 10th Rome Film Fest. The journey embarked upon by the two sweetheart protagonists of the film (Elio Germano and Franco-Spanish actress Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) has an epic feel to it; their path is littered with obstacles in their race for happiness, from Paris to Milan, between arrests and accidents, betrayal, brawls, and actions driven by visceral passion. Two desperate characters who are fragile yet determined and, guided by instinct, make mistake after mistake, making them all the more human.
It all starts on the terrace of a 5-star hotel in Paris. Nadine is smoking a cigarette in a swimming costume, having just had a modelling audition. Fausto, who works in the hotel as a waiter, offers to show her the most expensive suite they have, which is actually occupied. This is where the trouble begins: Fausto beats up the occupant who unexpectedly comes back to the room while they’re there and ends up in prison. It’s just the first in a string of unfortunate episodes the pair end up at the centre of, lost souls who have been uprooted and possessed by a streak of madness, hungry for life and its experiences, and for money. Indeed, it is Fausto’s uncontrolled ambition that creates problems for the couple when they are reunited in Milan, breaking the mutual trust they share. How can you trust a man who takes possession of all your savings for a shaky investment without even asking you?
What follows is a series of highs and lows for both of the characters, in a constant imbalance of the two (“things are going well for me because they’re going badly for you”, says Nadine): she becomes a highly sought-after model whilst he’s in prison; he opens a successful club whilst she’s stuck lying in a hospital bed. They trade places constantly, right up until the end. They often feel emotionally uncomfortable, which stops them from climbing the social ladder. They leave each other but always end up back together, one being the reflection of the other. “Our aim was to make a powerfully emotional and romantic film”, said Cupellini, who wrote the screenplay with Filippo Gravino and Guido Iuculano. “All the characters have an element of the Shakespearian about them because they’re unique, full of life and willing to do anything”, observes Germano. Is it love or money that makes people happy? This seems to be what this passionate, visceral film, whose story takes place over the space of five years, with perfectly functional story arcs and secondary characters (the cast also features Valerio Binasco, who plays Fausto’s business partner, and Elena Radonicich, as his rich wife-to-be), seems to be asking. It’s also a coming of age story which, despite the fact that its ending brings it full circle, leaves its characters as very different people to how they started off.
An Italian-French co-production (Indiana Production, Rai Cinema, 2.4.7. Films) largely shot in the Alto Adige with support from the BLS, Alaska will be released in Italian theatres on 5 November by 01.
(Translated from Italian)