Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturno Contro

A group of friends, now edging towards their 40s, have managed to remain a tight knit group throughout the changes in their lives. However, their solidarity is threatened by the shocking circumstances they experience when one of them is suddenly taken ill.

Sensitive, sophisticated, with a real warmth, Saturno Contro has all the hallmarks that make Ferzan Ozpetek's films a delight to watch. Featuring some of Italy's finest acting talent, such as Margherita Buy and Stefano Accorsi, working together in a superb ensemble, this is a witty but emotionally affecting film, its characters and situations utterly believable.

After the departure that was Sacred Heart, Ozpetek has returned to the territory of Ignorant Fairies and Facing Window and the result is a wholly enjoyable experience that confirms him as one of Italy's most consistently interesting, quality filmmakers.





El último trabajo del director italo-turco Ferzan Ozpetek reincide en la temática de la crónica generacional, tan onmipresente en los últimos años, de aquellos que se encuentran más cerca de la cuarentena que de la treintena, o bien la han rebasado ampliamente, momento en el que parece obligado pararse a recapacitar sobre el camino que siguen nuestras vidas, hasta que punto se han cumplido nuestros sueños de juventud o hemos fracasado estrepitosamente en el intento.



Il tema del film è la separazione, sia nell'amicizia che nell'amore, e la difficoltà ad accettarla. Davide (Pierfrancesco Favino) è uno scrittore di favole, a casa del quale si raduna un folto gruppo di amici: il bancario Antonio (Stefano Accorsi), sposato con la psicologa antifumo Angelica (Margherita Buy) ed amante della fioraia Laura (Isabella Ferrari), Nival (Serra Yilmaz) interprete turca sposata con il poliziotto Roberto (Filippo Timi), succube di lei e poco integrato nel gruppo, Sergio (Ennio Fantastichini) ex compagno di Davide, con il quale ha mantenuto un rapporto di amicizia, anche se adesso Davide vive con Lorenzo (Luca Argentero), Roberta (Ambra Angiolini), amica e collega di Lorenzo, patita di astrologia con problemi di droga. Durante una cena a casa di Davide, Lorenzo ha un malore ed entra in coma. Sulla panca dell'ospedale questa specie di "famiglia allargata" si ritroverà a fare i conti con la perdita e con le difficoltà a saperla accettare, smettendola di nascondersi dietro le proprie paure e debolezze. Saturno è il pianeta che, secondo gli astrologi, quando è "contro" al proprio segno porta rotture, cambiamenti, nuovi incontri, dai quali si può uscire provati, cambiati e persino migliorati.




Curiosità

* Il regista dedica il film a Hrant Dink, scrittore turco di origini armene e paladino della lotta per i diritti civili in Turchia. Dink è stato ucciso ad Istanbul nel gennaio del 2007.
* Alla fine del film appare una dedica a Flavio Merkel, caro amico di Ozpetek e dello sceneggiatore Gianni Romoli con cui aveva più volte collaborato, morto improvvisamente nel 2004. Il tema del film è strettamente legato all'elaborazione di quel lutto.
* Inizialmente il film doveva intitolarsi Mentre Lorenzo dorme, secondo la malinconica speranza del regista che non si muoia mai ma ci si addormenti soltanto. Diventa Saturno Contro per una battuta astrologica di Roberta (Ambra Angiolini).
* Parte del film è girato nell'appartamento del regista e in una villa a San Felice Circeo.
* Come in tutte le opere di Ozpetek e Romoli ci sono citazioni cinematografiche di varia origine, in questo caso il film sull'AIDS, Che mi dici di Willy? (nella scena all'obitorio), Viale del tramonto (1950) di Billy Wilder e Rebecca, la prima moglie di Alfred Hitchcock. Impossibile non vedere analogie anche con il film di François Ozon Il tempo che resta (2006).
* Il film segna il debutto nel cinema di Ambra Angiolini, senza contare Favola del 1995, e per Luca Argentero è una prova importante nel cinema che conta, dopo l'esperienza nel film A casa nostra di Francesca Comencini.





Fırat Hrant Dink (Armeno: Հրանդ Տինք) (Malatya, 15 settembre, 1954 - Istanbul, 19 gennaio 2007) era un giornalista e scrittore turco d'origine armena. È stato assassinato nel quartiere di Osmanbey a Istanbul, davanti ai locali del suo giornale bilingue Agos, con tre colpi di pistola alla gola.

Hrant Dink è stato il fondatore e il redattore capo della rivista Agos, un giornale scritto in armeno e in turco. È stato pure giornalista per i giornali nazionali Zaman e Birgün.

Nacque a Malatya il 15 settembre 1954, Dink arrivò a Istanbul con la famiglia all'età di sette anni, in questa città trascorse il resto della sua vita. Dopo il divorzio dei genitori viene accolto in un orfanotrofio assieme ai fratelli. Tutto il suo iter scolastico avviene in scuole armene. Si diploma in zoologia all'università di Istanbul, dove frequentò in seguito anche corsi di filosofia.

Nel 2005 fu condannato a sei mesi di reclusione per suoi articoli sui fatti avvenuti tra il 1890 e il 1917 (Genocidio armeno). I tribunali avevano ritenuto i suoi articoli come insulto all'identità turca secondo l'articolo 301 del codice penale turco. Questa condanna fu fortemente criticata dall'Unione europea. Venne a più riprese minacciato di morte per le sue prese di posizione su quanto subito dagli armeni negli ultimi anni dell'Impero Ottomano.

Hrant Dink ha sempre sostenuto il bisogno di democrazia per la sua nazione. La sua azione si focalizzava sui diritti delle minoranze e in particolare della minoranza armena e più in generale sui diritti civili. Negli ultimi anni sentiva forte l'odio che la sua azione suscitava in molti suoi concittadini e affermava che avrebbe voluto fuggire da questa realtà. Ma molto coraggiosamente sosteneva che se avesse compiuto questo passo, avrebbe tradito tutto quanto fatto fino ad ora.




Sarah Manvel
in Cinematracction

Italian movies excel at depicting groups of friends sticking together through thick and thin. Classics such as Federico Fellini’s I Vitelloni and Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura center around six or eight young people who’ve known each other forever. More recently there was The Best of Youth, a captivating seven-hour – and not a minute too long – exploration of the lives of two brothers and their family of friends. The newest in this genre is Saturno Contro. The title translates literally as “against Saturn,” an astrological term for a time of great upheaval and change.

Backstage




Of the circle of friends, Roberta (Ambra Angiolini) is into astrology. She works for Lorenzo (Luca Argentero), whose partner is writer Davide (Pierfrancesco Favino), who had a thing with Angelica (Margherita Buy) before she married Antonio (Stefano Accorsi), who is having an affair. Also in the circle are Davide’s former partner Sergio (Ennio Fantastichini), Neval the translator (Serra Yilmaz), her husband Roberto (Filippo Timi), and Paolo (Michelangelo Tommaso), who fancies Davide. They meet up regularly to drink and talk and worry about each other, confiding secrets, lending money, bringing cakes and champagne to each other’s houses.




Without giving it away, something bad happens to Lorenzo. The last good time is so blatantly telegraphed as to lose its emotional punch. That said, it’s affecting as the film becomes an examination of how a tight-knit group copes in crisis. It’s firmly grounded in everyday reality, but the waiting in the hospital corridor never becomes mundane, not least because their lives keep right on happening. At one stage, when too many people show up to comfort him, Davide asks, “No one had to go to work today?” In another scene, the whole gang has gone out for some air; a woman behind their group makes a phone call. She’s not subtitled, but it’s obvious she gets bad news. Her frantic conversation freezes their distracted chit-chat; as the camera circles, they bolt as one.




What’s puzzling about this film is that the group dynamic never changes despite all this upheaval. It’s well directed, paced and intelligently acted, but there is something a little too tidy about Saturno Contro. The only recurring motif, the circling camera shots, emphasizes their closeness and community. Teeth need to be brushed even in the face of catastrophe, but these people and their friendships seem so capable as to be nearly bloodless. There are few tears, no tantrums and not one weepy close-up. Is that admirable restraint, or repressive determination to pretend nothing is wrong? Even the metaphor of the title seems without significance, although perhaps astrology buffs will understand some deeper meaning.

Nil Karaibrahimgil - Pirlanta




When most films are built around a journey of some kind going from A to B, whether on a road trip or in a personal experience, Ozpetek’s direction rejects that structure completely to emphasize togetherness and resistance to change. It’s an unusual filmic perspective. But why tell the story without providing the hook to become emotionally attached to these people? Without that point of entry it’s like sitting in a group where everyone else knows the inside jokes. You can have an OK time, but you won’t feel like you belong, and you’re not sorry to leave. It’s like that with this film.


Ambra Angiolini



Written by Boyd van Hoeij for European Films Net


Ugly horoscopes and uglier twists of fate test the bonds of friendship for a group of polysexual Roman 40-somethings in Ferzan Ozpetek’s Saturno contro (Saturn in Opposition). The handsomely made feature of the Italo-Turkish director feels like a return to safer and more familiar waters after the religious flight of fancy that was his excellent Cuore sacro (Sacred Heart), though some of that feature’s preference for an investigation into what makes people tick over carefully plotted melodrama has -- thankfully -- remained. Though not perfectly paced and certainly too long at 110 minutes, Saturno contro is nevertheless a worthwhile affirmation of everyone’s need to be loved and understood by at least one person and, possibly, more.



In his 2001 feature Le fate ignoranti (His Secret Life), Ozpetek told the story of a doctor and widow played by Margherita Buy who discovers that her husband had led a double life and was part of a colourful group of outcasts that rallied around a gay man dying of aids. The group included her husband’s male lover, played by Stefano Accorsi, and a Turkish immigrant with the face of Serra Yilmaz.






In Saturno contro, it is again illness and death that reunites these three actors and various others, though the makeshift family of outcasts has now become a respectable group of middle class people who gather in the home of successful, 40-ish fairytale writer Davide (Pierfrancesco Favino) and his strapping boyfriend Lorenzo (Luca Argentero), ten years his junior. The couple’s friends include Neval, a Turkish translator with the face of Serra Yilmaz and the married couple Antonio, a bank employee played by Stefano Accorsi, and Margherita Buy's Angelica, a psychologist.

Neval’s police officer husband (Filippo Timi); a beautiful cokehead (Ambra Angiolini); her occasional -- and bisexual -- bed partner Paolo (Michelangelo Tommaso) and the older, somewhat cantankerous but always honest Sergio (Ennio Fantastichini) complete the dinner table seating arrangements for the frequent get-togethers at Lorenzo and Davide's apartment in the centre of Rome.

Ozpetek neatly sets up his large group of friends and their problems, of which the erupting domestic battle between Antonio -- who is secretly seeing another woman (Isabella Ferrari, looking better than ever) but feels he should tell his wife -- and Angelica is the most captivating, mainly because of the excellent work of the actors and the relatively large amount of screen time they are given. Ozpetek’s observing script, co-written, as usual, with Gianni Romoli, here brings some originality and truth to what could have been a trite melodramatic storyline.



Carmen consoli - Fidarmi delle tue carezze



One of the lessons Ozpetek clearly learned in Cuore sacro is that not everything needs to be on screen for it to have its impact, which he uses here in two carefully choreographed instances that are all the stronger for it. When Antonio returns to an ongoing dinner party at Davide and Lorenzo’s after a quick visit to his mistress, he finds the house empty. Cut to the hospital, where the person who fainted and went into a coma during Antonio’s absence is kept off screen for the duration of his stay there.

Neffa - Passione





This smart editing does not extend to the entire film however, which suffers from an uneven rhythm from the scenes in which the friends’ gathering place has been moved from Davide and Lorenzo’s apartment to the hospital corridors. The closing scenes especially seem to struggle between a suggestion that friends will get one another through everything and the idea that, finally, every person is an island. This note of indecision fails to bring any real sense of closure -- an explanatory voice over notwithstanding.

Cinematography by Ozpetek regular Gianfilippo Corticelli is luminous and glides through the lives of the characters, though some fancy camerawork during a scene in which Davide breaks down at the seaside seems unnecessarily flashy. Music, by Neffa, is emphatic, as in all of Ozpetek’s films, while acting is excellent across the board, including from the bit players, with Fantastichini, Milena Vukotic's hospital nurse ("I get a little foul-mouthed after 3 a.m.") and Lunetta Savino as the mother from one of the characters as the standouts.





« Minnie: "Anche lei è così?"

Sergio: "Così come?"

Minnie: "Come loro, come lui insomma."

Sergio: "Addolorato?"

Minnie: "No... Gay!"

Sergio: "Gay io? No, io sono frocio."

Minnie: "Ah ecco. Ma non è la stessa cosa?"
Sergio: "Sì, ma io sono all'antica." »





Ferzan Ozpetek (b. 1959, Istanbul) left to study art history and film direction in Italy at the age of 19. As assistant director he worked on films by Italian filmmakers such as Maurizio Ponzi, Massimo Troisi and Ricky Tognazzi. In 1997 he debuted with the film Hamam, which was screened at Cannes in the section Directors’ Fortnight and enjoyed critical acclaim both in Italy and abroad.

The Directors Cut





Two years later, the Cannes programme Un Certain Regard included another of Ozpetek’s films in its programme, Harem Suare. In 2001 the director competed for Berlin’s Golden Bear award with the film Le fate ignoranti. Two years after that, he enjoyed huge success in Karlovy Vary, where his film Facing Window won Best Direction, Best Actress and the Crystal Globe. Ozpetek’s latest offering Saturno contro follows the film Cuore sacro, starring Slovak actress resident in Italy, Barbora Bobulová.

1 comment:

Penelope said...

This is one of the best films I have seen! The 2 reviews here seem to me to be written by people who are so much less intelligent than the makers of the film that it is a travesty to allow them to be in the position of both introducing this sensitive and gripping piece and giving away some of the more shocking (because unexpected) parts. I think that Boyd van Hoeij, especially, has become too enamored with Hollywood to appreciate the subtlety that makes this such an outstanding film.