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The Girl in the Fog: A thrilling debut for Donato Carrisi

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- Toni Servillo is a police officer caught up in the disappearance of a girl from a small community in the mountains

The Girl in the Fog: A thrilling debut for Donato Carrisi
Toni Servillo and Jean Reno in The Girl in the Fog

Following his incredible success, with three million copies of his novels sold worldwide, making him one of the most beloved thriller authors in Italy, Donato Carrisi has launched his directorial career with The Girl in the Fog [+see also:
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, with 400 copies due to be released in Italian cinemas today with Medusa, after its premiere at Rome Film Fest. Carrisi has developed a fairly free adaptation of his latest best-selling novel of the same name, and it appears as though he got slightly carried away with the bewitching process of directing. The Girl in the Fog brings together a lot of noir imagery from the past 20 years, drawing from TV series, the Coen brothers, and much more recently The Snowman by Tomas Alfredson, adapted from Jo Nesbø's novel – another European master of crime fiction. The film – produced by Colorado and already sold by Studiocanal in Spain, Germany, France – includes all the necessary ingredients for a perfect postmodern Euro-thriller: a small community in the mountains, a lost girl, religious extremism, suspicious suspects, local useless police officers (with Fargo-esque fur hats), a self-righteous detective, an unscrupulous lawyer, a  soulless journalist and a small nerdy boy with little propensity to socialise. Visually we see the addition of a few smartphone photos and some grainy videos, some 80s and 90s set design, hazy photography with vertical anamorphosis, and a piano, violin and flute soundtrack. 

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The film opens with a meeting between the psychiatrist (Jean Reno) of a mountain village, Avechot, and police officer Vogel (Toni Servillo), famous for his inquiries and love of television appearances. Then there's a flashback: young Anna Lou Kastner, daughter of parents belonging to a fraternity of religious fanatics, leaves home two days before Christmas and disappears into the fog, allegedly abducted by a maniac assassin. Vogel arrives to investigate along with the television troupe, including hyenic journalist Stella Honer (Galatea Ranzi). The first to be suspected is a mischievous kid, which then points the investigation towards a charming but well-behaved high school teacher (Alessio Boni). 

TV-writer Donato Carrisi seems to have committed the same crime as some of his characters: vanity. Although he seems to be playing with his own role as writer-director, he never goes too far with the violence and gloom; on the contrary, he veers towards fairy-tale territory. We're presented with shots of a small papier-mâché model town, mimicking crime TV series, but also children's fairy-tale pop-up books. By scattering the film with judgements here and there, ("it's the bad guy who creates the story," "evil is the true drive behind every story," and above all "the first rule of a great novelist is to copy other people") Carrisi discovers his filmmaking game. He seems less interested in making the audience jump and more concerned with pointing out the aberration of a media system that can squeeze the life out of an innocent person. It’s a shame we seem to end up in an infinite series of quasi-finales that have the potential to tire out even the hard-core fans of his original books.

(Translated from Italian)

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