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There is a Light: The dreams you’re not brave enough to dream

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- Fabio Mollo’s second film is an emotional on-the-road movie that ponders the future, fatherhood, and borders in and against nature. Starring Luca Marinelli and Isabella Ragonese

There is a Light: The dreams you’re not brave enough to dream

What’s more unnatural, a woman who doesn’t want children or a gay man who dreams of becoming a father? Arguably neither, as Fabio Mollo suggests in his second feature, There is a Light [+see also:
trailer
film focus
interview: Fabio Mollo
film profile
]
(Il padre d’Italia). Four years on from South Is Nothing [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Miriam Karlkvist
festival scope
film profile
]
 (a film which was selected for Berlin and Toronto, among others, and awarded at Rome), the 36-year-old Calabrian director is back, straight into theatres from 9 March with a subtle and reflective on-the-road movie which ponders the future, what it means to be a parent, and the borders in nature, and is led by two of the most sought-after actors around right now, Luca Marinelli (They Call Me Jeeg [+see also:
trailer
making of
film focus
interview: Gabriele Mainetti
film profile
]
, Don’t Be Bad [+see also:
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trailer
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]
) and Isabella Ragonese (who recently starred in Sun, Heart, Love [+see also:
film review
trailer
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]
), as they embark on a geographical and emotional journey from the North to the South of Italy, in a relationship that breaks every rule in the book.

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"When something happens to you, do you know straight away if it’s a good or a bad thing?", Mia asks Paolo. Their encounter is clearly one of those for which you don’t know what the outcome will be. Their eyes meet in the darkroom of a club, right after she faints in his arms. From then on, they take care of one another, like two guardian angels. Mia, with her pink hair, tattoos and flashy jacket with a Madonna stitched on the back, is six months pregnant, a singer, and homeless. Paolo works in a furniture workshop, has his head screwed on, and is suffering from the break-up of his long-term relationship with a man who left him to start a family. Mia bowls Paolo over with her vitality and thoughtlessness ("who the father is isn’t that important", she says to him casually), and she recognises that he is a good soul. Together they complete one another.

In Turin they hop in a van (the van of the company Paolo works for) and head for Rome, where Mia says she lives. From there they venture further south, first to Naples, in search of the child’s father, then to Reggio Calabria, where Mia finds her family (above all her severe mother played by Anna Ferruzzo) and where, treated with disdain, she immediately wants to run away from, whilst Paolo starts to imagine a different life for himself in that very place, a life with her. Fabio Mollo uses this film, written with Josella Porto (who also co-wrote Il Sud è niente with him), to tell the story of the encounter between two people standing on the edge of the abyss who need one another, and a love story that you don’t expect, that breaks every rule in the book. He does so in a way that is delicate and intimate, without being afraid to show the characters’ bodies or throw in a smile or two when Mia’s extravagance completely bowls Paolo over, leaving him taken aback and speechless.

"For the first time I can see a future for myself", says Paolo, wondering if he has gone mad as, being gay, he has never given a second thought to becoming a father. A film which invites us to reflect on the notion of going against nature, wrapped up in an aesthetic, carefully chosen music and meticulous staging and attention to gender issues that liken this promising director’s sensitive style to that of filmmakers like Xavier Dolan. 

Produced by Bianca Film with Rai Cinema, Il padre d’Italia is being distributed in Italian theatres by Good Films

(Translated from Italian)

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Filmitalia Cannes 2017