email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on reddit pin on Pinterest

VENICE 2020 Out of Competition

Review: Venetian Molecules

by 

- VENICE 2020: Andrea Segre’s new film is an intimate, melancholy and moving story shot before and during the lockdown period

Review: Venetian Molecules

Andrea Segre is making his return to Venice with a new title, Venetian Molecules [+see also:
trailer
interview: Andrea Segre
film profile
]
, presented out of competition as per his earlier work Il pianeta in mare [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Andrea Segre
film profile
]
(2019). The Venetian director’s latest documentary is the pre-opening film of this year’s Venice Film Festival.

The work opens with a quotation from Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger (1942): “Throughout the whole absurd life I'd lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come”. With poetry and simplicity, the director alternates images of a crowded and vibrant pre-Covid Venice with additional images from family archives. The opening quote and, in an even more explicit manner, Segre’s off-screen voice introduce the main themes of the film, shot shortly before the eruption of the global health crisis and during the subsequent period of lockdown. The key themes pervading Venetian Molecules are the director’s personal relationship with the lagoon-based city and Segre’s complicated relationship with his father Ulderico, who turns out to be the real protagonist of this film.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

When lockdown was declared, the director (who usually lives in Rome) found himself unexpectedly trapped in Venice. At the time, Segre was working on two projects about the city’s major ills: high water and tourism. The uniquely atemporal conditions caused by the pandemic encouraged in-depth reflection on the past and allowed the director to fully capture the atmosphere of this empty and surreal version of Venice. Segre’s reflections are accompanied by various contributions from Venice’s inhabitants: incorporated organically into the narrative context, these contributions act as an effective link between the themes characterising the director’s original projects and the “new time” experienced in lockdown.

Helmed by Matteo Calore (Il pianeta in mare, Dove bisogna stare [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
) and the director himself, the film’s photography translates the melancholy of the pandemic and the ongoing sensation of waiting into visual form by homing in on the pallid colours of the city’s buildings, the mist, the dark streets, the imposing gloomy sky and the sea stripped almost entirely bare of boats. Further enhancing these suggestive images is the music of Teho Teardo (All Together [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, The Nest [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Roberto De Feo
film profile
]
), a highly evocative addition which emphasises the sensation of fragility pervading the spirit of the film. The soundscape (coming courtesy of Alberto Cagol, Marco Zambrano and Riccardo Spagnol) is also deserving of praise, as is Chiara Russo’s (Il pianeta in mare, Selfie [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
) measured and engaging editing.

The final sequence is, without a doubt, the most powerful and magical part of this documentary. The closing monologue talks about “learning to dialogue with the inevitable”, opening up various interpretations of life and nature, and touching once again upon the father-son relationship in candid and sincere fashion.

Venetian Molecules is produced by Paduan group ZaLab Film alongside RAI Cinema, in association with Vulcano and the Istituto Luce Cinecittà. The film will be released in Italian cinemas on 3 September, with distribution in the hands of ZaLab Film, in collaboration with Lucky Red.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

(Translated from Italian)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

Privacy Policy