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FILMS / REVIEWS Italy

Review: Zamora

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- The directorial debut from actor Neri Marcorè is an edifying comedy about a youth from the province who learns to make himself respected (and to play football) in 1960s Milan

Review: Zamora
Alberto Paradossi and Neri Marcorè in Zamora

Ricardo Zamora Martínez, Spanish and born 1901, is considered to be one of the greatest goalkeepers in football history. If you play football and are nicknamed Zamora, you’re either a phenomenal player or someone is making fun of you. It’s definitely the latter for Walter Vismara, the protagonist in the directorial debut from actor Neri Marcorè, which was presented in a world premiere at the recent Bif&st in Bari and is playing in Italian cinemas from 4 April via 01 Distribution. Freely inspired by the novel of the same name written by sports journalist Roberto Perrone, who recently passed away, Zamora is an enjoyable comedy which begins a little like cult Italian satire Fantozzi, then evolves into a buddy movie, before finally turning into an edifying story about learning to be respected and brave — all in impeccably reconstructed 1960s Italy.

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“The” Vismara (played by the reliable Alberto Paradossi) is a big guy of 30 who, from the small province town of Vigevano, finds himself catapulted into effervescent Milan during the economic boom, where he is hired as an accountant in a modern agency specialised in gaskets. The agency is headed by the cavalier Tosetto (Giovanni Storti, from the comic trio of Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo), an Inter fanatic, whose motto is “Work and play”. More than a motto, it is an order, since all his employees are literally obligated to play football on Thursday evenings, the bachelors against the married men, to train for the important annual match on 1 May.

Vismara does not even know what a football is made of, and when asked what position he plays in, he replies with the first thing that comes into his head: goalkeeper. The teasing, on and off the pitch, is relentless. Awkward, not very sociable and a bit of a nerd (at the office, he is always the first to arrive and the last to leave), Vismara is soon targeted by his co-workers, especially by Gusperti (Walter Leonardi), the typical boastful and philandering male colleague, who other than sarcastically calling him Zamora, also comes between him and the sweet secretary Ada (Marta Gastini), whom the young man was timidly growing very fond of. Walter takes it in his stride, swallows the bitter pill, but he also plans his revenge: he wants to become a great goalkeeper. To do so, he asks to train with Giorgio Cavazzoni (Neri Marcorè), a former champion now disgraced, plagued with alcohol problems, family trouble and a lot of debt. An encounter which will not fail to leave its mark on both men.

One might describe this protagonist as a Fantozzi who made it, a man embroiled in grotesque office dynamics and used to suffering in silence who nevertheless finds a way to rise up and gain the respect of others. It is impossible not to be reminded of the famous accountant played in the 1970s by Paolo Villaggio (the bachelors vs. married men games in the fog, the love triangle, the office Christmas party…). But Marcorè’s film is most of all a polite coming-of-age comedy about redemption whose outcome is anything but predictable, featuring modern female characters (such as Walter’s emancipated sister, played by Anna Ferraioli Ravel) and immersing the viewer into a prosperous era — illuminated by the warm tones of director of photography Duccio Cimatti, winner at Bif&st of a Special Mention for photography — where everything seemed possible and which it is hard not to feel nostalgic for. 

Zamora was produced by Pepito Produzioni with Rai Cinema. International distribution is handled by Rai Com.

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(Translated from Italian)

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