Article by: Romilda Boffano

Translation by: Ilaria Rana

“La Sapienza” is the fifth feature film by Eugéne Green. Its preview was screened last summer at the Locarno Film Festival and it opens the section “Onde” of the 32nd Turin Film Festival. This film tells about the meeting between two couples. Alexandre and Alienor Schmidt are married and they are an architect and a psychoanalyst respectively.

 Their crisis takes them from France to Italy, in the suggestive small town of Stresa, where they separate from each other and they meet another pair composed by Goffredo and Lavinia, who are brother and sister. They form two new pairs: Alexandre and Goffredo who live between Turin and Rome and Alienor and Lavinia who remain in Stresa.

These couples start a painful and hard inner analysis, through the deep empathy between the two women and the pedagogical relationship between the two men.

Alexandre represents the reincarnation of the baroque architect Francesco Borromini. Through the “trait d’union” of lights between architecture and cinema, Green adds a feeble dossier about the works of Borromini and his contemporaries.

The Dardenne brothers’ veteran Fabrizio Rongione interprets Alexandre, and has a great recitative feeling with Christelle Prot, who interprets Alienor. It’s not the same thing after the pair exchange. In particular, Alexandre and Goffredo, who are taken in continuous and exhausting shot/counter shots, turn out to be distant and their dialogues are not verisimilar. They pass sentences with a dull style, in order to avoid making them annoying and rhetorical. They do so in respect of the director’s purpose, since he prefers unnatural acting, even if it may produce in the audience a completely opposite effect.

Green’s film begins with an association between postcard images (in particular of Stresa and Rome) and sacred-like music, which reminds us of Sorrentino’s last and discussed Oscar-winning film.

The portrait of Italian people that emerges, by the middle of the film, through the dialogue between the porter and a strange Australian tourist, with the mediation of an embarrassed Alexandre, reminds us of Woody Allen’s film about Rome.

Finally, “La Sapienza” appears like an “emulatio”, which is really strange for Green, whose mentor is experimental director Godard.

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