Matteo Garrone

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

6.0 Primo Amore (2003)
7.0 Gomorrah (2008)
7.2 Reality (2012)
7.0 Il Racconto dei Racconti (2015)
7.3 Dogman (2018)
6.3 Pinocchio (2019)

Matteo Garrone

Terra di Mezzo (1996)

Ospiti/ Guests (1998)

Estate Romana/ Roman Summer (2000)

L'Imbalsamatore/ The Embalmer (2002)

Primo Amore/ First Love (2003)

Gomorra/ Gomorrah (2008)

By comparison with its predecessor, Reality (2012) is a lightweight film. Garrone aptly quotes some of the Italian masters, notably Fellini (the grotesque first scene) and caustic apologues of the gutters such as Ettore Scola's Brutti, Sporchi e Cattivi/ Ugly, Dirty and Bad and Luigi Comencini's Scopone Scientifico/ Scientific Cardplayer. But mostly his tale is an inversion of themes of the media-dominated society. The protagonist is obsessed by media-channeled stardom just like Scorsese's The King of Comedy but the protagonist's role model here is a pathetic loser, a man who enjoyed a brief moment of fame and now thrives as a disco dancer. The surveillance that is painfully real in films such as Tony Scott's Enemy of the State (1998) here is purely imagined, and actually desired: the tragedy is not that there is pervasive surveillance around the protagonist, but that there is none. The lugubrious madness of this ordinary, low-caste citizen is delivered via very long mobile shots that provide a wide-range view of the situation, sometimes from above, even aerial, and in vivid fairy-tale colors.

A horse-driven coach enters a palace, welcomed by servants wearing Renaissance costumes. It is the scene for a pompous wedding. Two opposite characters have been invited: Enzo, who has become a tv star after playing a role in the tv reality show "Big Brother", and Luciano, a fishmonger who also performs dressed like a drag queen. Luciano is excited to meet Enzo and clearly jealous of his fame. Back home in their poor neighborhood Maria and Luciano run a little scam: they get poor people a robot at discount prices, then buy it from them and then resell them at a profit. Luciano and his cousin Michele have to deal with an elderly woman who swears she never received the robot. After forcing her out of the church where she is praying, Luciano eventually finds the robot hidden in her house. While Luciano is enrolling another elderly woman for their scam, Maria and the children are at the shopping mall where "Big Brother" is carrying out auditions. The children want dad to rush to the mall and do the audition but he shows up three hours late. Nonetheless he sees Enzo and begs Enzo and he begs Enzo to help get an audition. Luciano is at the fish market, where he runs the stand with his cousin Michele, when he gets the call that he has been selected for the audition at the studios. When he comes back, the neighborhood gives him a hero's welcome. Everybody thiks he'll soon be a star. Luciano is anxious about getting the phone call from the studios that he has been selected for the show, and begins to suspect that strangers around him are spying on him on behalf of the show. Luciano gets nervous about their robot scam and stops doing it. The wife is terrified that they might go to jail for fraud, but he only thinks about the show. Now he wants to sell the fish stand, certain that he will have better chances without it, and certain that, once a star, he will be able to afford a much better life. Michele is not convinced but nothing can stop Luciano. Luciano keeps waiting for the phone call that will change his life. Finally the call arrives... but it's a friend playing a cruel prank on him. Luciano is beginning to understand that he has not been selected for the show. He goes to a disco where Enzo is the main performing in front of an ecstatic crowd, and then crawls down the air ducks into the men's restrooms to talk to Enzo. Enzo, afraid of the maniac, reassures him. But the tv show begins and the family watches live the presentation of the new line-up, and there is no sign that they want Luciano at any point in time. However, the host says that two more contestants will be introduced later in the show, so there is still hope. And then a new strategy forms in his mind: to become such a good, noble person that the tv show will want him. Thus Luciano offers food to a beggar whom he had insulted in the past, fearing the beggar might be working as an observer for the show. On the way home from work Maria sees people walking away with her belongings: Luciano is giving everything away as charity, convinced that the people of the show are watching him and judging him. Maria yells at him that he's out of his mind, but he continues. In the morning there is a little crowd of beggars under Lucian's window, waiting for more charity. Maria tries in vain to send them away, but Luciano keeps calling them back. The neighbors witness the brawl between Maria and Luciano, with Luciano screaming that she's trying to ruin his chanes. Maria leaves him, taking the children with her. The relatives find Luciano staring at a cricket that he suspects could be a planted camera. He stops two women at a cemetery and argues with them, assuming that they are agents of the tv show. The old ladies think that he is trying to get into paradise and he understands that they are telling him that he will admitted to the show. He is beyond paranoid. He begins to spend days and nights in front of the tv station. The relatives bring Maria and Luciano together again, and now everybody accepts that he's gone crazy. He spends his time watching the reality show. The psychologist tells Maria that Luciano will recover only when the show ends. Maria is getting desperate. Helped by Michele, Luciano finds a way out of paranoia via the Catholic church. He is fascinated by its rituals. But he is not healed. At night, when everybody is sleeping, he leaves home and heads for the studios where the show is filmed and watches behind a glass wall. Then he walks straight into the area where the show takes place. And he starts laughing. And he lies there, by the pool, laughing, alone.

Il Racconto dei Racconti/ Tale of Tales (2015)

Dogman (2018) is the fantastic portrait of a coward, of a man who behaves like a dog, loyal to a bully no matter what the bully does. There is only one thing, or, better person, that this dog-man values more than his "master": his daughter. When his loyalty to the master and his hopes for money to improve his daughter's condition line up, he does not hesitate to sacrifice his own freedom. The tragedy is that he gets nothing and then he finally bites back. Unfortunately, the ending is not only ambiguous, but quite lame; in fact, the film feels unfinished. The most important part, the final resolution of this little man's tragedy, is missing.

The action takes place in a small seaside town in which everybody knows everybody else. Marcello runs a shop called "Dogman" where he grooms dogs. He seems to be a simple man, devoted to his job and to his dogs. He has a daughter who lives with his estranged wife. Alida comes to visit and is happy to help him wash the dogs. When he closes shop, Marcello calls his friend Franco, who runs the shop next door, and they join their friends for an evening football game. His best friend is a big bully, Simone, who depends on Marcello to find and supply him cocaine. Marcello is nice to Simone, but Simone shows no respect and no gratitude to Marcello. Simone is losing his mind. He breaks a videogame machine in the arcade of a friend's shop because he lost all the games, and then demands money from the shopowner threatening to destroy all of his machines. Marcello witnesses the scene but remains indifferent to his best friend's violent manners. Later he shares his food with a dog while watching television. Marcello is happy to take his daughter to a dog show where their dog wins an award. Late at night, Simone and another thug demand that Marcello drives them to a mansion. They climb the walls and break into the house to steal jewelry. Then they give Marcello very little. They tell Marcello that they locked the guard dog in the freezer. Marcello drives back alone, climbs the walls and climbs the house to the kitchen and rescues the dog from the freezer. His daughter is dreaming of exotic vacations but Marcello doesn't have the money. He takes her scubadiving in the sea nearby. When Simone breaks the noise of one of the friends, the shopowner comes up with the idea that they should hire killers to get rid of the bully who is terrorizing everybody. Marcello listens silently. Simone, unstoppable, picks up Marcello on his motorcycle determined to get some cocaine immediately. Marcello takes him to his supplier, but his supplier recognizes Simone who owes him money. The two get into a fight. Simone almost kills the man and then almost kills another man who tries to stop him. Marcello does nothing to help the victims, and in fact warns Simone of the second attacker. As if nothing happened, Simone and Marcello walk into a strip club, snort cocaine and dance with the girls. When they leave the club, however, two men in a motorcycle approach them and shoot Simone. Simone is only wounded but refuses to be taken to a hospital so Marcello rides him to his mother's place. They clean his wound and Marcello pulls out the bullet, but Simone's mother is devastated when she finds cocaine in Simone's pockets. She gets furious and pours the cocaine on the floor. While she is sobbing, Simone hugs her but not because she loves her: simply to give Marcello a chance to collect the cocaine from the floor. Simone recovers quickly and comes up with another dangerous idea: he wants to rob the shop next door, the jewelry run by Marcello's friend Franco. Marcello refuses to help, but Simone forces him to accept the deal: Simone will use Marcello's keys to enter his shop during the night and then break into Franco's shop through a thin wall. Simone promises a huge sum of money for Marcello, enough to buy Alida the exotic vacation. The robbery takes place while Marcello is playing football with his friends. The following morning Marcello finds the police in front of Franco's shop. The police already figured out what happened because Simone did a clumsy job, possibly also to frame Marcello. Marcello refuses to collaborate with the police and is sentenced to one year of prison. When he comes out one year later, Alida is still happy to see him, but everybody else shuns him. Franco calls him a traitor and tries to attack him, and calls him a traitor in front of Alida, restrained by the other friends. Nonetheless, Marcello reopens his shop and starts his business again. He sees Simone ride by on a brand new expensive motorcycle, but Simone does not even stop to say hi. Marcello walks to his house in the rain and demands the money that Simone promised. Simone laughs and walks away. Marcello, furious, grans a steel bar and vandalizes the motorcycle. Later he can't fall asleep, afraid of Simone's revenge. Sure enough Simone attacks him in the shop in front of a customer and then drags him to the motorcycle in front of a whole crowd: nobody tries to help Marcello. Marcello goes diving again with Alida but he is clearly unhappy. Later he walks into Simone's garage and apologizes to Simone and even offers him some special cocaine. Marcello tells Simone that he has a plan to rob the drug dealers. Simone accepts. Marcello tells Simone to hide in a dog cage and attack the drug dealers when they enter the shop. Simone is initially reluctant but then falls into the trap: Marcello locks him in the dog cage and demands an apology. Marcello underestimated Simone's strength: Simone manages to break some of the bars and is about to escape from the cage. Marcello grans a steel bar and hits him in the head. Then he chains the unconscious Simone to the wall. Marcello seems sorry that he has hurt his best friend: he tries to clean the wound as much as possible. Simone seems unconscious but suddenly grabs Marcello and tries to strangle him. Marcello presses a button with his foot that causes Simone to get strangled by the chain. Marcello loads Simone's corpse into his car and takes it to the beach where he sets it on fire. He then hallucinates and thinks his friends are playing football nearby, so he, proud of being the one who finally killed the hated Simone, picks up the charred body and carries him on his shoulders towards them... but there's nobody. Marcello keeps carrying the corpse along the beach, but it's just dawn and nobody is in the streets. Marcello eventually drops the body on the ground, not knowing what to do next.

Pinocchio (2019)

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )