Never judge a DVD by its cover. Gabrielle Muccino’s Ricordati di me (Remember Me, My love) is one of the better Italian films I have seen in a while. If, however, you rent the film in the States, you will find its cover decorated with passionate “moments” between Fabrizio Bentivoglio and Monica Bellucci along with a female bordering the cover: her legs stretched vertically in despair with a carefully placed wedding ring on her finger. The entire purpose of such a cover is to lure audience with Monica Bellucci’s name and sex appeal. In reality the film is more tame than Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena (a coming-of-age story about a boy and his infatuation with a woman), which is really just a soft-core voyeuristic film despite its mild cover.
Ricordati di me is about the Ristuccia family. The parents, Carlo and Giulia, are played by Fabrizio and Laura Morante, while the children, Valentina and Paolo, are played by Nicoletta Romanoff and Silvio Muccino, respectively. The Ristuccias are a typical Italian family suffering from unfulfilled love. The parents lack the intimacy, which they once had, lost somewhere in their unavailing careers; Valentina is having trouble getting over her previous love and Carlo is futile in his efforts to attain his love. The arrival of Alessia (Monica Bellucci) only complicates things for the Ristuccia family. I will not say any more of the film, as the beauty of the film is in its unraveling of the story and its characters.
The film reminded me a bit of American Beauty; however, this film goes far beyond the limits of American Beauty. This film carries with it a certain boldness in its emotional portrayal. There are numerous arguments where voices are raised, and slaps are received and returned. These arguments are performed with a certain passion, which is seriously lacking in American films. American films and their characters, quite often, are trapped in a layer of opacity. Any passionate appeal is muted into cordial mannerisms or hidden behind the barrels of a gun, which itself speaks for an affected individual incapable of showing emotions. The reality of the character is layered with an expressionless face, which yields characters on the verge of spilling their contents.
Style, No Veil
Muccino’s film does no hiding. Characters are shown “as is”, without concessions. The only hiding, apparent to the audience, are the secrets between family members. The film does not rely on the audience to fill in pieces of the characters; every bit of them is on display. A brilliant lesson in filmmaking and story telling.
Perhaps the future of Italian neo-realism is breaching its attachment with the lower class and pursuing a middle class. Same long shots exist, however: the idea of post-World War sentiments and changing times is explored with a more confined family – a family where changes are evident along with the inertia of problems. If such a style of filmmaking were to emerge, it would present itself in a similar fashion to Ricordati di me. The film won 10 Donatello Awards, the Italian equivalent of the Oscars.