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BERLINALE 2023 Berlinale Special

Andrea Di Stefano • Director of The Last Night of Amore

“It was important that we talk about these relationships; these couples who have to survive on a wage of 1,400 euros a month”

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- BERLINALE 2023: The Italian actor-director spoke to us about his third directorial effort revolving around an honest police officer’s descent into hell

Andrea Di Stefano  • Director of The Last Night of Amore

The last night worked by a police officer before he takes retirement, a night which sees him sliding into hell, is the focus of Andrea Di Stefano’s (Escobar: Paradise Lost [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
film profile
]
, The Informer [+see also:
trailer
interview: Andrea Di Stefano
film profile
]
) third feature film, which was presented in the Berlinale’s Berlinale Special section. The Last Night of Amore [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Andrea Di Stefano
film profile
]
is a thriller blending action and social commentary, which was born out of the director immersing himself in the day-to-day reality of law enforcers, and which stars Pierfrancesco Favino and Linda Caridi in lead roles.

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Cineuropa: Where did you get the idea for this honest police officer who’s related to dangerous people and who’s resentful of the fact he hasn’t been given what he deserves?
Andrea Di Stefano:
The film is loosely based on a real story. Then, when I started to piece the screenplay together, I met various members of the police force. What many of them had in common was the fact that, by the end of their careers, they all felt quite bitter because they believed they’d given so much to the State but that they hadn’t received much in return. Even the story of the policeman who falls in love with and marries a woman with links to ‘ndrangheta is a true story which I came across during my research. Franco Amore is an incredibly honest police officer, but he’s always been excluded from important investigations because his superiors were worried he’d discuss these cases with his wife and that she’d pass information on to her relatives. And he feels wounded by this.

There’s real complicity between Franco Amore and his wife, and her character is crucial to the film’s dynamics.
She saves his life, she’s the driving force in the film. I wanted a proactive female character who’d be the brains of the outfit while the man tries to process the fact that his best friend is dead; he’s in a state of shock, he’s afraid, he realises he’s got himself caught up in a situation that’s bigger than he is. Viviana is a character who doesn’t have false morals, because that’s how life is: if you’re genuinely in the shit, you try to save your ass. She protects him and makes him think; they’re a couple. It was crucial to talk about these relationships, these couples who have to survive on 1,400-1,800 euros a month. He works nights, sometimes he’s out for 36 hours straight… it’s not easy. These are women whose characters are often surprising, and I wanted to talk about this in flesh and blood terms.

How were you guided in terms of the film’s visual aspect?
I wanted to make a film like they used to make them: using film. I wanted to shoot at night, with light and shade, and with a golden yellow hue that would express Milan’s richness and throw shadows and shards of light onto the actors, alongside the sirens, with all the rest in silhouette. I’m not a fan of action films or thrillers; I just use the genre as a tool.

The film’s aesthetic is a little vintage, especially in the surprise party scene: you genuinely feel like you’re in the ‘80s.
I’ve found myself in similar situations, at a police party where everything was strangely old-fashioned. The costumes in the film are based on the buying power of anyone earning that kind of money. For Dino’s son Ernesto, we bought clothes from second-hand shops, with a maximum budget of 30 euros. And for Franco Amore, we looked at areas with rents which a police officer could afford: 50 square metres behind the station, with the noise from the trains in the background. The house wasn’t reconstructed in a studio, everything was shot in real locations.

When it came to the music too, Santi Pulvirenti and I sought inspiration from 1970s and 1980s cinema. We wanted to make music using real instruments, rather than sampling. The first part, with the breathing, was inspired by Miriam Makeba, the spinet is reminiscent of Cipriani and the whistle Morricone. We had fun finding interesting things within our traditional musical repertoire.

Franco Amore is afraid that if he commits a crime, he’ll be denied his pension. Is that how it really works?
It’s all true: even if you’re a police officer who dies while committing a crime, your family still won’t receive your pension. I was staggered when I heard that. But the thing that shocked me the most was that all police officers have another side-job, and often a very humble one; painting and decorating, for example. When you’re earning 10 euros an hour to supplement your income and a criminal offers you 500 for half an hour’s work, it’s hard to say no.

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(Translated from Italian)

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