Pietro Castellitto • Director of Enea
“Life has more than one genre”
by Marta Bałaga
- VENICE 2023: The Italian actor-director introduces us to a man who just wants to feel alive, in his “gangster movie without the gangster parts”
Pietro Castellitto follows up The Predators [+see also:
interview: Pietro Castellitto
film profile] with Enea [+see also:
interview: Pietro Castellitto
film profile] – now screening in Venice’s main competition – where he also plays the main character, acting alongside Giorgio Quarzo Guarascio and his real-life father, Sergio Castellitto. In his “gangster movie without the gangster parts”, as he calls it, two friends try to have it all – money, excitement and maybe even love – but their world is already starting to show the first cracks.
Cineuropa: Enea is a family story, it’s a love story, it’s a crime story. It feels like you really didn’t want to limit yourself this time?
Pietro Castellitto: I feel that a film is always an imitation of life, and life has more than one genre. It can be comical, and it can be dramatic as well. Films must be the same. Once you follow a character, and this time I have quite a lot of them, you have to keep up with their pace. It’s only natural that they would eventually head off in very different directions. But the atmosphere is always the most important thing. It’s the “cage” where you keep all your characters. If it makes for believable surroundings, the audience will accept everything else. They will believe that a palm tree can collapse on a glass building, for example.
It's good that you mentioned the palm-tree incident because there are so many weird occurrences in the film. I am not even going to go into the subplot featuring a chef getting way too close to a salmon.
I remember that Lars von Trier once said that if there is one thing he learnt in film school, it’s that without irony, there are no films.
If Lars von Trier says so, then it must be true.
I think so; he is a genius [laughs]! Irony is an essential ingredient, also in our daily lives. Even people who are not ironic, who don’t have any sense of humour, find themselves in ironic situations. That’s our human condition. We try to walk, and then we fall.
Enea is a bit of a player and even claims that a guy like him is “born once every 100 years”. Why did you want to play him yourself?
I just like to act. I wrote this film, and when you do that, you keep repeating all the lines anyway. I liked him so much. He lives in a very corrupted world, yet his desire is to stay uncorrupted. The idea of entrusting someone else with this character just wasn’t acceptable to me. I felt that by choosing somebody else, I would somehow do wrong by him. I love him, and I don’t judge him.
You don’t judge anyone here. Instead, you show how lonely they all are.
In real life, our values often depend on our respective journeys, on what you had to do in order to get there. Sometimes, your values are influenced by the times when you were born. I do believe that someone’s integrity is made up of all these different elements. They all share this desire to be alive. When you are young, it means meeting as many people as you can, experiencing things, creating memories and chasing your goals. When you are older, and you have all these years behind you already, you need to find different ways. Very often, it means resetting things and pretty much starting from scratch.
In Enea, when people party, they party big. When they kiss, they fly. Everything they do feels a bit “extra”. Did you want this film, which actually looks surprisingly glossy, to feel larger than life?
I think a film should be symbolic. That way, you can amplify and enhance certain things. Everything depends on the story, of course, but here, I wanted to show this desire for power, for beauty, for youth. It needed to feel big. I was lucky because I found producers who shared that view and allowed me to make the kind of film I wanted, even though it’s still independent. I can tell you this: it looks much more expensive than it really is.
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