Article by Sara Longo

Translation by Lara Martelozzo

In the oneiric world of Al (Francesco Gheghi), the single most important thing is to make his bed every morning. This is because accomplishing the first task of the day will motivate him to achieve subsequent goals. Inspired by what Admiral McRaven said in his famous speech, Al adds that it is in a properly tucked-in bed that good dreams are born. Too bad there are no blankets to tuck into in the hot, suffocating Rome where he lives.

Roma Blues, Gianluca Mazzetti’s debut film, is a sincere and light-hearted homage to the cinema of the past, but also a modern coming-of-age with energetic rock-blues soundtracks written by Giovanni Piccardi. The photography resembles its protagonist and the way he sees the world: bright and colourful, just like the Hawaiian shirt his father gave him. As a devoted rock ‘n’ roll musician with no band or record label, and an enthusiastic fan of 1950s noir that only he seems to know, Al seems to have been born in the wrong era. Even his name comes from the past: this is also the name of the character played by Tom Neal in Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945), which tells the story of the penniless pianist Al Roberts who, as the only witness to the death of a man, fears being mistaken for the murderer. And indeed, even when Al from Roma Blues finds an abandoned telephone on which the murder of a man is recorded, he is convinced to be destined to suffer the same fate. He decides, however, to use the investigative skills he refined by watching his favourite films to solve the case on his own, thus triggering an amusing comedy of misunderstandings that brings the characters into increasingly paradoxical situations. Al’s vintage style soon meets the modern pop look of Betty (- “Like Betty…. Page?” – “No, Boop!”), played by a brilliant Mikaela Neaze Silva in her first performance. The film’s third protagonist is Rome, a modern Far West overrun by rubbish, where building sites provide the backdrop for kisses and car chases.

“I do rock ‘n’ roll”, Al explained awkwardly to Betty, “rock comes from rock ‘n’ roll, but both come from blues”. Thus, one would think that Roma Blues derives from something else, from the film training and the personal experiences of those who created it. This is confirmed by the director himself: “When I was a kid, I had a band. I was the drummer who never showed up for rehearsals; the frontman on the other hand looked a lot like Al and it was he who made me discover noir films”. Between comedy crime and retro musicals, Gianluca Mazzetti delivers a fresh, colourful and pleasantly entertaining debut film.

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