Duccio Chiarini • Director of The Guest
"Comparing yourself to other people is always important when experiencing pain"
- We met up with the Florentine director Duccio Chiarini at the 36th Turin Film Festival to talk about his second film, The Guest, presented as part of the TorinoFilmLab section
Presented in world premiere last August at Locarno Film Festival in the Piazza Grande, and after a visit to Chicago International Film Festival in October, The Guest [+see also:
interview: Duccio Chiarini
film profile] by the Florentine director Duccio Chiarini finally returns to its place of birth: Torino Film Festival. Developed two years ago at TorinoFilmLab, where it won a production award (read the news), the second feature by the director of the well-received Short Skin [+see also:
interview: Duccio Chiarini
film profile], co-produced by Italy, Switzerland and France, was screened at the 36th edition of Torino Film Festival in the Festa Mobile section. A perfect occasion to chat with the director.
Cineuropa: You define your second film as a "late coming-of-age novel." What do you mean by that?
Duccio Chiarini: The film is structured like a paradoxical journey. When a relationship ends, you re-emerge with an inner awareness, the answers you were looking for in the other person, you end up giving to yourself. In this sense, it's like a late coming-of-age novel, in which the protagonist compares himself to life and is able to learn things from his life. Guido learns from his own pain, the pain of others and from the inconsistencies and imperfections of others. The idea of a coming-of-age novel about a man who is nearly forty years old seemed appropriate in this historical period. Fifty years ago, Guido would have been the person saying, "he’s a grown man now," but in this day and age he’s still just a big boy. It's as if things happen a little too late in his life. And this delayed growth and these gaps in his development are problems you often find in Italy.
Guido seems bewildered by what happens to him and is far from the stereotype of manliness. How was his character written?
Guido represents a world that I see around me and which is poorly represented. When I look around, I see guys who look like me, who have gone to good high schools, good universities, people who have a good education, perhaps too much so, and who, once they reach 30 years old, are confronted with a harsher reality. People who are well educated on an emotional level, too. From a human point of view, Guido is a very affectionate and respectful person. He is a university researcher, has a developed culture, and relates to the female universe in a very available way – always ready to listen, at the cost of humiliation. And when he does things that are typical of a dominant male, he does them in absurd and awkward ways, such as when he chases his girlfriend into her mother's electric car. In this film, as in my first feature, I tried to continue to focus on the fragility of contemporary men compared to women, who are somewhat more emancipated, all while putting an ironic spin on it. Faced with the scourge of violence against women, I wanted to tell the opposite side to the story, that is, how civil the end of a relationship can be. And a portrayal of the moment when two people split up, the missteps, the uncertainties and that sense of drifting, the sofa seemed to be a perfect symbol for the inability to build an "us", of sailing uncharted waters.
"They throw things away, we always tried to fix them," Guido's parents say. Does the film also deal with generational comparisons?
Comparing yourself to other people is always important when you're experiencing pain. You look for answers in others, and often we compare ourselves to our parents. In some ways, we always compare ourselves to the people who made us and how relationships were back then. It was important, in comparison to the difficulty that Guido and his peers have creating an “us,” to show how things used to be, when relationships were more empirical, factual, and people got married so that they could leave home and become independent. It was also important for the mother to say certain things about Chiara as a woman, to perceive her detachment, the difficulty in creating a world that isn’t guided by the ego.
When you presented the project two years ago at TorinoFilmLab, you said you were inspired by Woody Allen's first films. Did the great American director end up guiding you in the making of this film?
I was inspired by Allen's way of filming, his preference for fluid acting and his use of sequence shots that encourage more natural interaction between characters. A directing style that tends to melt away in order to put the truth at the heart of the film. Woody Allen taught me how to do that. Films by Alexander Payne and Noah Baumbach also helped me make this film, thanks to the lightness with which they deal with feelings, and then there’s 1970s French cinema, stories about certain emotional situations, about people who grow old together, from different points of view.
When will The Guest be released in cinemas?
The film is due to be released in Spring 2019 in Italy and France. The film has already been released in the Canton of Ticino in Switzerland and will be followed by other cantons at the beginning of the year. It has been sold to Australia, Greece, HBO East Europe. Other negotiations are under way.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
My next film will be about my hometown, Florence. I can't say any more about it though, as I'm still writing it.
(Translated from Italian)
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