A Review of L’Ombra del Giorno or “The Shadow of the Day” by Lewis Orr.

The Italian Film Festival has raged in Perth for a while now, and I encourage you to attend. I myself went to Windsor Theatre and knew I was in the right place.

You. Yes, you. You barely watch movies. Maybe you do but on Netflix. (Or Youtube.) And even then, you’re always pausing and going on your phone. Maybe… you don’t even finish them. They just accumulate like half-baked bombs ready to go off in your “keep watching” section. This is… horrific. Go to the cinema more often! It is an enchanting experience. And don’t brag about it; don’t send Snapchats about it. Go with someone you love and enjoy it for what it is. Escape into the velvet world of movie characters.

Let this film take you there and not my sullen poetry. L’Ombra del Giorno is a masterpiece of acting. I draw attention, especially to Riccardo Scamarcio, who plays the lead. This man is placed in a very difficult situation with all kinds of emotional and political complexities, and it is a marvel watching him work it out. He is a mixture of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Ernest Hemingway’s Frederico in A Farewell To Arms. If you don’t get these references, watch more movies. To destroy my opinion, first, watch the film!

Come on, tell me what the film is about. I shall. It’s about love, it’s about war, and more deeply, it’s about life and losing your love for life from dark experiences, and meeting someone who raises from the dead your desire for morality and the good, the very spinifex of life itself. There’s a character that whispers to another, “I need you like air”. Who am I talking about? Ah yes, now you need to see it!

The timing of L’Ombra del Giorno is long and slow, like a royal elephant marching through the streets of ancient Baghdad. At times, it’s faster, a giraffe that canters along and sometimes bends its neck to eat a tree, and you spectate in an armchair, expecting more pace. Is this a selling point of the film? No, it is much closer to a flaw. Then again, a flaw in our own eyes. The film and its major events aren’t broadcast to us right from the start like in an Avengers movie. This is a characteristic of European cinema. (E.g. Bernardo Bertolucci’s Le Dernier Tango à Paris, or Luc Besson’s Le Dernier Combat.) And therefore, it’s part of the cultural experience of watching this film, especially if you are unfamiliar with this area of cinema. If you’re like me and grew up chowing down on formulaic Hollywood films, you will relish the different taste. Mangiamo! 

The film is also bloody stark. It’s set in the Ascoli Piceno in Mussolini’s Italy, and war and death abound. This is also a reason you need to see the film. In view of Aristotelian catharsis, you need to cry every now and again. I’m not suggesting you will tear up. I’m placing millions of lira you will be on the edge of your seat and emotionally involved with these characters. Far more than any Netflix dross. (For yet another example of Italian pathos, watch the masterful La Vita e Bella).

Give Italian cinema a go! Get out of your room and… enjoy!

L’Ombra del Giorno. In cinemas now. For more information on the Italian Film Festival go here. 

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