Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Intrepido—Temping Italian Style
Pane’s name means bread. Someone ought to introduce him to Ms. Acqua. They would
be the perfect couple to represent Italy during the financial crisis—but isn’t
Italy always in a state of economic crisis? And if a man’s self-worth comes
through his work, what does that mean for Pane? He is a fill-in rather than a
temp, subbing for workers who must briefly be away from their gigs. It is not
the companies that pay him. His off-the-books agent-dispatcher is not so good
about remunerating either. Still, maybe just maybe, he gets some satisfaction out
of seeing the world from other vantage points in Gianni Amelio’s Intrepido: a Lonely Hero (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
Intrepido resembles the comedy Jerry
Lewis never made (or maybe he did, remember Hardly
Working?). Big-hearted Pane walks wide-eyed through a number of gigs, like
construction work, pizza delivery, and tram driving, never missing an
opportunity for physical comedy that might arise. Ironically, he is partially supported
by his son Ivo, a tenor player in music school, whose studies are underwritten
by his mother, Pane’s well-to-do ex.
Intrepido develops a strange and
awkward case of Jekyll & Hyde syndrome, alternating between Pane’s gentle
workplace buffoonery and some seriously downer subplots. It really starts when
Pane platonically befriends an emotionally disturbed fellow job-seeker, who has
been disowned by her parents. He also must contend with Ivo’s crises of
artistic confidence and his own attack of conscience when he realized a recent
gig inadvertently entailed delivery a pre-teen boy to a pedophile. Yes, in
Milan the laughter never stops.
could well be the tonal shifts of Intrepido
reflect something in Italian aesthetic taste that is lost in the
translation. On the plus side, Ivo’s group plays a starkly evocative arrangement
of “Nature Boy,” featuring Italian tenors Pasquale Laino and Mario Raja that
sounds amazing. Eden Ahbez’s proto-New Age standard often lends itself to perilously
maudlin interpretations, but it perfectly fits its place in the film.
Pane, Antonio Albanese oozes everyman compassion and exquisitely painful dignity
from every pore. Shrewdly, Albanese makes good use of silence, because if Pane
were a talker we would probably have to kill him. Instead, even cynical
Berlusconi-voting materialists will find the sad hound dog likable and worthy
of their rooting interest.
On the other hand, Amelio & Davide Lantieri’s
screenplay veers about sharply in its application of cinematic clichés. It ends
on a high note, but getting through the midsection is a bit of a chore. If you’re
looking for some economically depressed sentimentalism, it delivers the
middlebrow goods, but it probably helps to be an Italian expat to enjoy it.
Regardless, Intrepido: a Lonely Hero opens
this Friday (5/8) at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.
Labels: Italian Cinema, Nature Boy