Article by Pietro Torchia
Translation by Alessia Licari
In this edition of the Turin Film Festival, characterized by a surreal, sci-fi and horror atmosphere and a need to escape reality, “Ex-Husbands” – presented out of competition – is a film that instead focuses on the real world.
It’s a family history, ordinary and concrete, in which anyone can identify themselves. Peter, the father, is trying to reconnect with their two sons, James and Miles, who are now older and are going through love and relationship issues. The story is almost exclusively shown through Peter’s point of view (Griffin Dunne, thanks to his great expressiveness, portrays a multifaceted character, who is sweet but also has a sarcastic stare). The core of the film is in its own characters – and their interpreters. It’s inevitable to empathize with them also thanks to the dialogues, often ironic, and to the frequent closeups which emphasize their emotions.
The characters have the ability to move us, but the locations, ranging from their home to paradisiacal Mexican beaches, and the photography as well, characterized by a soft warm light, put the viewer at ease, underlining how light-hearted and ordinary the story is. The atmosphere that permeates the film sometimes opens its doors to deep conversation topics, which are toned down by a cutting wit and an ability to ironize over themes such as death and the acceptance of one’s own sexuality.
The ending and some writing choices, however, stop the film from shining fully. The film follows the typical scheme of American comedies with an inevitable good ending. Pritzker’s film, although nice in terms of visuals and story, doesn’t get out of its comfort zone and doesn’t take risks by trying to destabilize or surprise the audience with a crude realism. Something that the same directors from which he took inspiration for the film’s atmosphere, such as Woody Allen and Noah Baumbach, have shown is possible with their own films, but that Pritzker probably couldn’t afford to do.