by Roderick Conway Morris

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Slow-moving vehicle


By Roderick Conway Morris
VENICE 28 September 2001

 

Antonio (Luigi Lo Cascio) works as a chauffeur. When off duty one night he narrowly misses running over a child, Lisa (Barbara Valente), and he talks to her for a few minutes before her mother, Maria (Sandra Ceccarelli), retrieves her. Antonio is a solitary soul, who has invented a science fiction alter ego, Morgan, through whose eyes Antonio, like an alien from another universe, observes the strange life on planet Earth. Maria is bringing up Lisa alone, trying to make ends meet by running a frozen-food store, while battling social workers and Lisa's grandparents, who are trying to win custody of Lisa. Having fallen in love with Maria, Antonio discovers that she is in deeply in debt to a loan shark, Saverio (Silvio Orlando), and naively offers his services to Saverio in exchange for giving her some respite from the exorbitant payments she is making to him. Luigi Lo Cascio, who made a powerful debut as the recklessly courageous anti-Mafia hero in Marco Tullio Giordano's "One Hundred Steps" (1999), is convincing in this very different role of the kindly, confused, mechanized knight in tarnished armor, in pursuit of Sandra Ceccarelli as the frozen-hearted damsel in distress. And it is to the credit of both their performances, which won them the Best Actor and Best Actress honors at this year's Venice Film Festival, that they manage to give such momentum to what is, as scripted, a rather low-octane and slow-moving vehicle.

Antonio (Luigi Lo Cascio) works as a chauffeur. When off duty one night he narrowly misses running over a child, Lisa (Barbara Valente), and he talks to her for a few minutes before her mother, Maria (Sandra Ceccarelli), retrieves her. Antonio is a solitary soul, who has invented a science fiction alter ego, Morgan, through whose eyes Antonio, like an alien from another universe, observes the strange life on planet Earth. Maria is bringing up Lisa alone, trying to make ends meet by running a frozen-food store, while battling social workers and Lisa's grandparents, who are trying to win custody of Lisa. Having fallen in love with Maria, Antonio discovers that she is in deeply in debt to a loan shark, Saverio (Silvio Orlando), and naively offers his services to Saverio in exchange for giving her some respite from the exorbitant payments she is making to him. Luigi Lo Cascio, who made a powerful debut as the recklessly courageous anti-Mafia hero in Marco Tullio Giordano's "One Hundred Steps" (1999), is convincing in this very different role of the kindly, confused, mechanized knight in tarnished armor, in pursuit of Sandra Ceccarelli as the frozen-hearted damsel in distress. And it is to the credit of both their performances, which won them the Best Actor and Best Actress honors at this year's Venice Film Festival, that they manage to give such momentum to what is, as scripted, a rather low-octane and slow-moving vehicle.


First published: International Herald Tribune

© Roderick Conway Morris 1975-2016