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Paolo Sorrentino • Director

"Money and feelings"

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- Paolo Sorrentino • L’amico di famiglia Cannes Official Competition

Paolo Sorrentino • Director

In competition at Cannes 2006, the third feature film by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, The Family Friend, is an astonishing film in terms of form and content.

Cineuropa: Why did you choose the very physically and morally repulsive moneylender Geremia as the main character?
Paolo Sorrentino: I am fascinated by characters who have to struggle to be a part of society because society rejects them in some way. Those who are ugly suffer in a particular way, with a humanity and poverty that makes them beautiful. All human beings have their pleasant and unpleasant aspects and it is interesting to see how the two work together, how they fight against each other.

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As in The Consequences of Love, money is the main theme of The Family Friend
. Money and the feelings are the only real forces that drive man and his quest for glory and tenderness. I don’t see human beings as being driven by forces other than these, which at times overlap.

The film closely resembles an experimental work.
I made it in a radically different way to the minimalist The Consequences of Love. The Family Friend is a more baroque film, with an excess of events, more focused on addition than subtraction. My way of filming encouraged me always to be more flexible with a character that tends to run away even if there is no reason to because he has no friend, no wife, no one except an old mother with whom he has a sinister relationship that borders on incest. Moreover, I insisted on the contrast between the very sombre interiors (especially Geremia’s house) and the very luminous exteriors, lighting that we accentuated artificially to give a slight impression of unreality. This setting also corresponds to the town, whose fascist, geometrical and rational architecture we filmed.

What can you tell us about the Fellini influence that is present in the film?
Fellini succeeded in perfectly combining the comic – which is not the same as comedy – and the dramatic, as in Amarcord, for example. The Family Friend aims to do this too, by using the most vulgar comic elements.

Tell us a little something about the exceptional actor that plays Geremia.
Giacomo Rizzo has never played a leading role in cinema, he is a comedy theatre actor in Naples, and is very famous in this region. He is over 60 and has very peculiar features. I wrote the script with him in mind, because I had known him for a long time and I knew he deserved to play a leading role.

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