VIP and I watched Caro Diario by Nanni Moretti tonight. I’ve been hearing about the final chapter in this movie for years from VIP, and it was finally time to watch the film for myself. VIP says that Moretti is known as the Italian Woody Allen. Appropriate.
However, I wasn’t prepared for what we saw.
In that last chapter, Moretti is struggling to deal with a persistent night-time itch that is keeping him awake. He sees one dermatologist after another – the best that Rome has to offer. He takes a roomful of prescriptions – a set that he surrounds himself in one of the ending scenes. But it isn’t until the Chinese Medicine doctors, realize that what they are doing isn’t working, and suggests that he should get a chest x-ray for his coughing that he figures it out. That’s when they find the cancer. There is a brief scare, downplayed in the film, that it’s an inoperable, incurable form, but then they realize that this Hodgkin’s, and that the symptoms of this cancer including itching and insomnia.
It’s an interesting story, but the first part of the film is the part that intrigues me most.
The first chapter, My Vespa, about Moretti’s views of Rome from his Vespa is a lot of footage following Moretti as he winds along Rome’s streets. There are references about Paolo P(?)’s assassination, and we go to visit the spot with no further illustration on who the man was or why he was assassinated. The monument is in an overgrown field, casually protected by a few fences.
We see dancing, and a strange scene where Moretti confronts Jennifer Beals from Flash Dance, and her (then) husband about learning to dance. She categorizes Moretti as “off”, “off-center”, “whimsical” and finally “dumb”. The film reflects these traits, but Beals misses “funny.”
It took me a while to relax into this pace of story-telling. VIP says that it’s because it’s a story about slowing down and appreciating the small things after beating a disease like cancer. It’s certainly a tribute to Rome, her streets and cities, with some odd commentary about Italian films
In the second chapter, Islands, Moretti and his friend Gerard visit several islands in search of a place to work on the idea for his next film. Each island visit is a caricature of what that island is like. It’s travel blogging at it’s best.We were having a conversation about writing about travel earlier today, and I thought if only you could capture the essence of a place like this, you would be a very successful, or at least entertaining, travel blogger…
I loved this film, in all of its subtlety, and slowness, with it’s incisive cracks and humorous observation – with it’s appreciation of life and whimsy (by which I do not mean “dumbness”). I wish I could describe exactly what it is that I liked so much about the film… Perhaps that’s what’s missing for me as a writer. That ability to come right out and say what it is.