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TORONTO 2017 Masters

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Rainbow – A Private Affair: Waging war on your inner enemy

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- TORONTO 2017: Legendary Italian maestri Paolo and Vittorio Taviani deliver a subtle essay on the biggest war someone can ever fight – between love and jealousy

Rainbow – A Private Affair: Waging war on your inner enemy
Valentina Bellè, Luca Marinelli and Lorenzo Richelmy in Rainbow – A Private Affair

Renowned Italian auteurs Paolo and Vittorio Taviani don’t require any introduction. With a career spanning over 60 years, earning them multiple awards at every major film festival, the Tuscan maestri are the living history of world cinema. Their 21st film, entitled Rainbow – A Private Affair, had its world premiere – and rightfully so – in the Masters programme of the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival.

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Set in the Langhe hills outside of Turin during the Italian Civil War, the story follows a 20-year-old partisan who goes by the battle name of Milton (Luca Marinelli), like the 17th-century English poet. Thanks to his best friend Giorgio (Lorenzo Richelmy), he will be introduced to Fulvia (Valentina Bellè), a playfully flirtatious girl who enjoys listening to Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow and reading Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Milton will immediately fall in love with her, and it seems as though the affection might be mutual. The three of them spend an idyllic summertime at a villa just before the outbreak of the war. One year later, as Milton joins the Resistance, he will face his worst fears: Fulvia might also have had a fling with Giorgio. As jealousy takes him over, he will look for his former pal, also a partisan, only to discover that he’s been captured by the Fascists. Now he is searching for him both to save him and, mainly, to find out the truth. 

As is customary, the script was co-penned by both Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, and is loosely inspired by the coming-of-age novel A Private AffairBeppe Fenoglio’s swansong. The writer and partisan from Alba was strongly inspired by his region and his wartime experiences, and these topics align perfectly with the Tavianis’ style, as they return to their roots. 

The premise is perfect – a love triangle set during the Resistance, and a troubled hero who is wallowing in his own doubts, portrayed masterfully by up-and-coming Italian star Marinelli. In the Tavianis’ cinematic universe, their hero is torn between duty and contempt, the common interest and private affairs, jealousy and love. Almost as if suffering Othello’s wrath, Milton is a tragic hero who feels that the war happening inside his head is even worse than any other that he could ever fight. He cannot strike a balance with his emotions and expends his energy on his own private battlefield, spurred on by an urge to find the truth or, even worse, proof. As a result, he overcomes any rational fear, as jealousy, which is wrongfully considered love’s flipside, becomes even stronger than the Fascists and overwhelms him. This almost spiritual state of mind is heightened by the scenic, foggy Piedmontese landscape captured by Simone Zampagni, and the haunting, jazzy score by Giuliano Taviani and Carmelo Travia.

Rainbow – A Private Affair is, on paper, a war film, which it may very well be, given that we always observe what is happening on the actual and mental battlefields, but it is more a film essay about an undeclared inner war that we fight alone, and from which no one can escape unscathed. 

Rainbow – A Private Affair is an Italian-French co-production by Donatella Palermo (Stemal Entertainment), Ermanno and Elisabetta Olmi (Ipotesi Cinema), with Serge Lalou (Les Films d’Ici) and Eric Lagesse (Sampek Productions), and in association with Rai Cinema and Cineventure. It was supported by MiBACT and the Turin and Piedmont Film Commission. French outfit Pyramide International handles the world sales.

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