Vivere

One film from last year's Tribeca Festival that I would not have expected to get theatrical release is Angela Maccarone's Vivere, but it opened today (well, yesterday New York time by about 33 minutes). Here's what I said about it last year when I saw it at Tribeca:

Moving back to a more purely cinematic vein, we have Vivere, directed by Angelina Maccarone who is, contrary to her name and the film's title, German and not Italian. (Hey, who knew?) This is her fourth theatrical film, essentially the same story told from the points-of-view of three women grappling with love and alienation. Francesca is a taxi driver in her 20s who is holding her family -- Italian father deserted by German mother, snotty 17-year-old sister Antonietta -- by sheer will. When Antonietta splits with her rock musician boyfriend on Christmas Eve, Francesca reluctantly follows her to Rotterdam. On the way, she becomes burdened with Gerlinde, an older woman who has been the victim of a car crash -- we don't know at first whether it is an accident or a suicide attempt -- depressed because her long-time lover is breaking off the relationship, apparently to return to her husband. With each subsequent repetition of the story, we learn a bit more about the three women and how they have become intertwined with one another. And, for the first two-thirds of the film, this device works adequately. Unfortunately, when we presented at last with Antonietta's version of the story, the film falls apart; the final set of repetitions is just once too often for what turns out to be a rather slender set of events on which to hang a feature film, and Antonietta's understanding of those events is by far the least interesting of the three. More problematic, though, is that Maccarone seems to have no concept of pacing or rhythm and, by the time the film is an hour old, viewers will feel a lot older. Too bad, because she wastes nice performances by Hannelore Elsner as Gerlinde and Esther Zimmering as Francesca; the near-seduction scene between the two of them in a dingy hotel room near the harbor is by far the best moment in the film.

I'll get to the French series this weekend. I would say, however, that with the notable exceptions of the Claude Miller film, A Secret, a charming comedy by Emmanuel Mouret, Shall We Kiss?, and a couple of interesting but problematic melodramas, this year's offerings were disappointing.( Of course, the fact that some of the more interesting recent French films were in the Film Comment series probably doesn't help.) The Miller, I'm told, has a distributor and I suspect that the Mouret will shortly.


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