The prolific Italian director and screenwriter Marco Risi (Fortapasc, Maradona la mano de Dios, Il muro di gomma, Ragazzi Fuori, Mery per sempre, Soldati 365 giorni all’Alba…) works on his memories until the depths of the soul entrusting a central role to poetry in his latest film Il Punto di Rugiada (The Dew Point).
He talks about his ancestors, himself and more generally the present/past relationship through an accurate and analytical ‘theater of shadows’ acted out by old and new generations who casually meet.
It’s like a dream told while awake in which the contours of one’s own today and the yesterdays of others are not clear, in which four seasons follow one another almost to mimic the phases of life: the story takes place entirely in a historic villa marked by timeless beauty. It is located in Frascati, all the cast lived there during filming.
Marco Risi is the son of the unforgettable director Dino Risi: this film is an elegy of him in many directions – without big proclamations, with small semantic gestures and ‘captions’ that speak only to the soul of those who knew his father.
The film has been in the making for over ten years and merges two stories, the one you will see in the film and a memoir on Dino Risi on which the director worked under another title (Forte Respiro Rapido).
Having developed the project for a long time, excellent ideas for fiction converge with one’s own biography, never pedantic and never immature.
Each scene is lively, grows quickly and overbearingly, the collection of all the characters – the guests of a retirement home and its healthcare workers – is vast enough.
The movie is above all a bitter comedy: bitter for the reasons that keep the characters together yet also sweet, persuasive, cheerful for the lightness in which the protagonists and their followers act – without forgetting the lenses of depth and irony – important themes such as the end of life, inter-generational conflict, violence, illness, loneliness, love, desire.
Two young people, one from high society and one from the proletariat, are sent to a condemnation alternative to jail in an undoubtedly upper class hospice: Carlo (Alessandro Fella) is condemned to a year social working because, drunk and addicted, he almost killed two women in a road accident – one of whom is Luisa (Lucia Rossi) the head nurse of the facility- and Manuel (an amazing wingman , Riccardo Gudese) was caught while drug dealing so getting 18 months prison.
Their life and the weight that from now on they will give to their family and sentimental geographies changes in a Copernican way in contact with the light life – heavy and fragile at the same time – of the elderly patients, by no means permanent guests of a world that has already eliminated their value.
The cast of the ‘guests’ of the hospice is stellar: the best Italian theater, cinema and television actors of the last fifty years (from Eros Pagni, a former colonel, to Massimo De Francovich, a former photographer and the protagonist, whose room was meticulously reconstructed identical to that of Dino Risi, up to Elena Cotta and all the others: a former actress, a former scientist, a playboy, a couple with his wife suffering from Alzheimer’s who will celebrate their wedding again, two bon vivant sisters…). The biographical level of the story – original story and screenplay signed by the director, Riccardo de Torrebruna and Francesco Frangipane (with Enrico Galliano) – is masterfully ‘conducted’ uber alles thanks to poetry which creates an intellectual and even metaphysical register of the relationship between the self of today and his family roots.
Manuel, who has the role of ‘reader’ and singer of the story, will take possession of the written word that he rattles off throughout the film: a hilarious mixitè between trash and philosophy, between crime news and extreme lyricism. A readers’ club that takes place every afternoon at tea time until the poetry overflows from the plot and becomes both the score and metronome of the entire story.
Nelo Risi, uncle of the director (brother of Dino, director in turn as well as writer and husband of the poet Edith Bruck) gets into the skin of an important protagonist who arrives last in the tragicomic luxury hotel-circus (Luigi Diberti, enemy in love by Dino/De Francovich).
In Italy published mainly by Mondadori, Risi’s poems are extremely current at any time: poignant, they are the backbone to the climax of the story even if the author in the film does not remember them as his own (because afflicted by dementia).
They are read by multiple voices in very important moments but it will be Manuel who will ‘inherit’ them in a sort of non-testament, a real passing of the baton which means a hymn to care, taking charge of an ‘abandonment’. In particular, this remains vivid (and written, in a memorable scene, even in the snow):
My deserted city
a black wind invades,
my city hurts
at dawn over the houses
The wall does not measure
more than three meters, the sleep
of that lying boy
at the side is an eternal weight
The wolves have descended
they visit the streets,
autumn or spring
they don’t change country
My deserted city
has eyes of ruin,
the roses of its blood
there is already someone harvesting them.
Out in Italian movie hall from January 18th, Il Punto di Rugiada/The Dew Point is a delicate, almost evanescent film that deserves attention to details, a capacity for abstraction that spectators will be able to exercise in their own way, bringing with them their own relationship with ancestors, with history, with their tribe.
The film ends with a sort of slide show whose high emotional value will be perceived only by Italian spectators but appears a bit forced: the memory of the Covid induced solitary deaths many elderly people hospitalized in retirement houses were condemned to (certainly not as luxurious as the one staged by Mr Risi).
The director officially dedicated the film to the composer of the original music, Leandro Piccioni, and the head make-up artist, Gino Zamprioli, both of whom died a few months after the end of the work.