Palombella rossa (1989)


(director/writer/producer: Nanni Moretti; cinematographer: Giuseppe Lanci; editor: Mirco Garrone; music: Nicola Piovani; cast: Nanni Moretti (Michele Apicella), Mariella Valentini (Reporter), Silvio Orlando (Coach of ‘Rari Nantes Monteverde’), Asis Argento (Valentina), Antonio Petrocelli (Fascist); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Nella Banfi/Angelo Barbagallo; International Film Circuit; 1989-Italy, in Italian with English subtitles)
“A silly slapstick satirical political riff on the uncertain state of the Italian communist party.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Popular Italian comedy actor and director Nanni Moretti (“Caro Diario”) helms and stars in a silly slapstick satirical political riff on the uncertain state of the Italian communist party. I think you have to be aware of the Italian political situation to fully tune into this characteristically Italian movie. It’s Nanni Moretti’s semi-autobiographical story, and plays primarily as a personal film. The film’s title, Palombella Rossa, refers to a water polo move.

A communist politician and water polo player named Michele (Moretti) has a car accident and suffers from amnesia while riding to a water polo game his team is competing in. He tries for the remainder of the film to remember why he’s a communist. The film makes a big deal about the choices one makes in life, as most of the action takes place during the competition. Moretti plays the devil’s advocate in his off-the-edge comic antics, as he carries on a running debate about the worth of his political beliefs with various other individuals–while roaming the stands of the stadium, as eager politically-minded Italians voice their opinions and match wits with him. His life is dissected during this allegorical polo match.

It’s hard to account for what tickles one’s funny bone, but somehow this comedy did not make me laugh or see the film’s worth. Though Moretti deserves credit for taking a chance filming in such a risky and untested style. I’ll admit to the film being original, nevertheless I can’t say that I enjoyed it.