L’immensità, Italy/France 2022. Directed by Emanuele Crialese, screenplay by Emanuele Crialese, Francesca Manieri, and Vittorio Moroni.
Bambi Theater 2, Row 2, Seat 5. Original version with German subs.
(This post originally appeared, in slightly different form, at my Instagram account betweendrafts.)
Not a bad movie, by no means, but not a very good one either. To start with, there’s no story. It deals you a hand of assorted family crisis motifs, some vintage, some up-to-date, that neither fit together well enough to raise nor are fragmented enough to fold. The loose connection between these crises isn’t the problem—the problem is that they’re not resolved. There’s a strong sense of back-to-square-one at the end, even with a whiff of resigning-to-fate, all of which doesn’t tell you more than you already knew about the world or gives you a fresh perspective.
And while it’s well executed, its period style mostly falls flat. It’s set in the 1970s, but that doesn’t really come across except for props, a few cultural references, and black-&-white TV shows.* Everything else screams “contemporary,” including most of its motifs. Apropos black-&-white—this was the third movie I’ve watched this year, from 2022 and 2023, that juxtaposes color and B&W scenes: Oppenheimer (Kodak Vision3 250D 5207/500T 5219 vs. Eastman Double-X 5222), Asteroid City (Kodak Vision3 200T 5213 vs. Eastman Double-X 5222), and now L’immensità (Pohárnok used an Arri Alexa Mini, so the B&W scenes are post-processed from digital footage). Yet all three movies employ B&W in different ways for different purposes, and it works very well in each case.
All the actors do a really good job, and Penelope Cruz in particular is a blast. The sound design is negligible (which, sadly, is too often the case with European productions). The cinematography is largely familiar fare, so feel free to watch it on your favorite streaming channel. The subtitles the theater’s copy came with were fine but seemed to smooth over some nuances here and there. (I don’t speak Italian; I merely triangulated the manner of speaking, the subs, and my recently refreshed memory of Latin vocabulary and grammar.)
Yes, L’immensita is watchable, it has its moments, and the screenplay does surprise you at times in good ways. But neither expect a true period drama nor a fresh look at old problems.
* That’s authentic! Partial color transmissions in Italy started in 1977, full color transmissions in 1979.
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