DAYS AND CLOUDS (GIORNI E NUVOLE) (director/writer: Silvio Soldini; screenwriters: Doriana Leondeff/Francisco Piccolo/Frederica Pontremoli; cinematographer: Ramiro Civita; editor: Carlotta Cristiani; music: Giovanni Venosta; cast: Margherita Buy (Elsa), Antonio Albanese (Michele), Giuseppe Battiston (Vito), Antonio Carlo Francini (Luciano), Alba Rohrwacher (Alice), Carla Signoris (Nadia), Fabio Troiano (Riki); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lionello Cerri; Film Movement; 2007-Italy-in Italian with English subtitles)
“It’s not a film for those who go to movies to escape life.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A tense drama over a mid-life crisis due to financial matters. It’s set in Genoa during a recession. Directed and cowritten by Silvio Soldini(“Bread and Tulips”), who shows how financial woes and job market humiliations could be devastating even for the upper-middle-class. It’s a tough watch because it’s a depressing pic that brings up problems its viewers are likely to also have and offers no enlightenment but a pep talk on how to cope–which is meant to leave an optimistic message despite how melancholy everything looks. It’s not a film for those who go to movies to escape life.
The middle-aged Michele Olivieri (Antonio Albanese) is happily married for a long time to Elsa (Margherita Buy). She just graduated with an advanced degree in art history, as he proudly throws a big bash for her. Elsa keeps busy doing voluntary work with her professor and other students restoring a fresco in an ancient house. His 20-year-old daughter Alice (Alba Rohrwacher) is a partner in a start-up small restaurant. When Michele is pushed out of his position with a company he helped found twenty years ago over a fight with his best friend partner, he’s too embarrassed for the next two months to tell his wife and then must face the new reality that it’s difficult to land a job and that the family is running out of money. Unemployment means his comfortable lifestyle is in for some crushing changes, such as no vacation abroad, no maid, moving from their spacious expensive urban apartment to a small noisy one, and selling their boat. Also some so-called friends abandon them by not paying back a loan and their marital relationship becomes rocky, as they are emotionally unprepared to make these changes.
Over the next few months Elsa shows herself to be the practical one and gives up her interesting voluntary work to find an uninteresting paying day job as a telemarketer and double dips at night working for a wolfish shipping executive answering phones. Michele feels useless when he can’t land a suitable job and out of desperation delivers parcels on a motorbike until he quits when he becomes ashamed that his daughter saw him. When Michele accidentally bumps into two former low-level workers in his place, he teams up with them to get odd jobs as handymen remodeling kitchens until they leave for regular jobs at the shipyard and he’s left feeling so wasted he can no longer get out of bed.
It’s noteworthy as one of the few modern films to look seriously at the psychological damage of being unemployed. Also it points out that the more prestigious the job once held the harder it usually is to face the loss, since most likely your identity is attached to your work.It realistically connects with that unpleasant feeling the unemployed have that life could be unfair and rotten, and the characters come across as real people trying to deal with their bad situation to survive rather than just behaving like movie characters.
REVIEWED ON 5/30/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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