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  Consequences of Love, The Live A Little
Year: 2004
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Stars: Toni Servillo, Olivia Magnani, Adriano Giannini, Antonio Ballerio, Gianna Paola Scaffidi, Nino D’Agata, Vincenzo Vitagliano, Diego Ribon, Gilberto Idonea, Giselda Volodi, Giovanni Vettorazzo, Gaetano Bruno, Ana Valeria Dini, Vittorio Di Prima, Angela Good
Genre: Comedy, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Titta di Girolamo (Toni Servillo) is a man with secrets. He has lived in this exclusive Swiss hotel for around eight years now, and has barely communicated with anyone in all that time except to exchange words with the staff or indulge himself in a card game with some of the other regulars in the establishment. But there is one barmaid, Sofia (Olivia Magnani), who against his better judgement has captured his attention, though he can barely bring himself to speak to her, not even to say hello or thank you, maybe because of the age difference between them (he is approaching fifty) and maybe because when it comes down to it, he is very reluctant to take part in life...

And when he goes against his nature and finally gives in to his impulses to do something with his days that might make himself and indeed others happy, are we supposed to consider this a good thing or bad thing? Writer and director Paolo Sorrentino didn't explicitly indicate what we should take away from his tale of a passionless man experiencing emotions alien to him, but you could guess that no matter the consequences you could observe at least he was able to live a little, love a little, before events caught up with him. What started as a comedy drama developed into a slow thriller, though did not quite ditch the humour as the ending was notably absurd, if not exactly pleasant for the hapless Titta.

You could come up with words to describe the overall tone of The Consequences of Love, or Le conseguenze dell'amore if you spoke the original Italian, words like bittersweet or poignant, but equally the adjective "silly" might apply too. Sorrentino was patently sincere in his exploration of his main character's inner life, and in light of the way he went about it may not have been tried much before, if at all, there may have been a good reason for that because while it contained a sense of humour, that didn't entirely act as a lightning rod to earth the more ridiculous elements of what was straining for class throughout, though for long stretches looked like he was flexing his muscles as a potential shill for expensive products on television.

This meant lots of slick, glossy imagery which would frequently be brought up short by the events in the plot, so if you were not immersing yourself in a world that looked rather sterile if you were being honest, you may well be noticing this was rather foolish in its stoic romanticism. What was more difficult to tell was whether this was intentional, or if Sorrentino really believed in what he was selling, and while there were spots of genuine insight, the whole affair played more successfully as a metaphor for the life unlived than it did as a straightforward movie. Of course, there's nothing wrong with having a distinctive authorial voice, and he had definitely settled on one of those early in his career, yet as that progressed he risked being labelled with that dreaded word pretentious, even unconscious of his dafter excesses.

The secrets of Titta are revealed gradually, but we can tell he is up to his neck in illegal dealings when his main, if not only, job appears to be transporting large suitcases of money from one place to another every week, whereupon the cash is counted by hand and spirited away - it's Mafia money, naturally, and he appears to owe somebody a huge debt in light of how he has been stuck performing this task for years. Meanwhile, close proximity to this fortune starts to give him ideas of how to spend it on Sofia, who in the sort of development that happens in films like this is intrigued then flattered by Titta's growing attention for her, though even that is leading up to a twist that would be hard to take seriously if you were not captivated by the surface visuals here. It looked very professional, but needed a bit of grit to make the pearl rather than the details and developments that wound up less weighty and more flighty. It was a matter of commitment, one supposed, you either bought into it or not, but if you did you'd likely not see the funny side. Music by Pasquale Catalano.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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