Italian Film Festival

Tommaso

Info: Italy, UK, USA, 2019, 115 mins, DVD

Language: Italian with English Subtitles

Director: Abel Ferrara

Cast: Willem Dafoe, Christina Chiriac

Showtimes

  • Thursday January 9, 2020 - 8:15 pm

"Dafoe brings a pulsing gusto" Hollywood Reporter

"Ferrara is on to something: the chasm that can open up between men and women in an age where the continuity of love has been devalued…. It feels alive as a movie. Dafoe won’t let a scene go by without finding an angle on it; he keeps you watching." Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Willem Dafoe plays filmmaker Abel Ferrara, more or less, in this deeply personal and very moving drama about an aging American artist in Rome, his beautiful but distant, much younger European wife (played by Ferrara’s real-life wife, Christina Chriac), and their infant daughter (played by, you guessed it, Chiriac and Ferrara’s daughter). Even their apartment plays itself.

But don’t assume this is a documentary or even straight autobiography (at least, one hopes not). Tommaso is an ex addict, still in the programme, and now a Buddhist, but finding it harder and harder to stay in touch with his wife, who may or may not be having an affair. As his resentment and anxiety build into anger, it appears something will have to give.

Dafoe, a Ferrara regular who last collaborated with him on Pasolini, captures the filmmaker’s shambling, self-destructive sincerity and passion. But it’s probable that Ferrara also cast him with half an eye on The Last Temptation of Christ. In one (dream) scene, after sitting and talking with a group of African immigrants in the park one night, Tommaso reaches into his chest and proffers them his heart… It’s a gesture of such generosity and hubris, it’s hard to think of another filmmaker who could pull it off.

“Shot by cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger (a longtime collaborator of Werner Herzog) on a few sweltering days in the Italian capital, the aesthetic stays in keeping with the Ferrara brand: coarsely beautiful in a way; lots of Steadicam; a colour palette of blues and burnt gold; and hints of noir in the use of shadow and lattice blinds. The scenes come at us almost as short vignettes: his daily routines; the exceptionally well-acted A.A. meetings; his fighting or intimacy (or both) with Christine. And then there are his dream sequences, of which there are many and during which he touches on his deeper anxieties–namely being with a much younger woman who may have daddy issues, of remaining faithful to her, the effect all this might have on their child, and all the resulting Catholic guilt.” Rory O’Connor, The Film Stage