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||IMDB Rating: 6.9/10 from NOT RATED votes
||Release: 13 Feb 2004 /
||Genre: Drama, Romance
||Director: Matteo Garrone,
||Stars: Drama, Romance
||Synopsis: Vittorio is looking for a woman who matches his ideal. Through a classified ad he meets Sonia, a sweet, pleasant, intelligent girl. However, she weighs 125 pounds -- which according to ...
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Writer/director Matteo Garrone has created in PRIMO AMORE yet another
atmospheric film (not unlike 'L'Imbalsamatore') that deftly explores
the dark side of human interactions and motivations. His style is
Gothic in nature but with a contemporary setting manipulated with
quirky camera work and artistically designed sets that give the viewer
the feeling of watching an experiment in a laboratory, the characters
all being bounded by cage-like visual devices. Yes, this is film noir,
but Garrone develops his bizarre characters so well that we grow along
with their transformations into the icons they become.
Vittorio (Vitaliano Trevisan) is a goldsmith who exists on the modest,
long-held family business of creating jewelry from molten gold in the
ancient manner. We first meet him looking through the grid of a train
station where he awaits Sonia (Michela Cescon), a young girl who has
answered his classified ad for a date. They meet, Sonia is pleased, but
Vittorio tells her right away that he expected her to be thinner. Sonia
offers to return to her home out of town, a garden home she shares with
her robust brother (Roberto Comacchio), but Vittorio decides he wants
to try the date. They have a little courtship and all seems to go well
until Vittorio begins to suggest that Sonia lose weight. They move into
a nice home ('the site of Romeo and Juliet' the realtor boasts) and
their coexistence begins.
Vittorio is confronted with the needs of his business expanding
stimulated by an offer to partner his business from an entrepreneur who
insists Vittorio make only heavy bracelets and substantial jewelry in
response to what the public is buying: Vittorio has always preferred
the tiny, thin, light weight delicate carvings of beauty rather than
the bulkier profitable items. The decision causes Vittorio's two old
workers to leave him and Vittorio is depressed.
As Sonia complies with Vittorio's ongoing obsession for her to be thin,
Sonia's friends and brother tell her to beware of the strange demands
of Vittorio, and despite Sonia's hunger for food, her hunger for being
loved is greater and she slowly moves toward anorexia. Eventually in
the solitary confinement of their home the two come into conflict and
the result is a tragedy few would see coming.
The layers of meaning are deep: Vittorio's passion for the thin,
delicate gold objects he creates as being things of true beauty are
mirrored by his obsession for Sonia to be like those objects. Sonia
works as a model for an art school and as she watches the students'
works alter her once nubile body to a dwindling form, she feels
terrified that she will waste away. Yet her need to not be rejected by
Vittorio keeps her starving her body rather than her heart. Throughout
this downward spiral of physical vs emotional attraction Garrone frames
the scenes in increasingly complex grids, confining the story every
more tightly until the ultimate rupture.
The acting is excellent and the combination of scene design and
cinematography make this a dark but intensely interesting film
experiment. It may not be a movie for everyone, but for those who
appreciate avante garde stories and cinematic treatment, this is a film
to study. Grady Harp
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