Director: Giuseppe Piccioni
Narration has often been misused in cinema and some critics have even dared say it’s a practice best left in the dust. However, this enchanting, sad, and gorgeously mysterious film from Giuseppe Piccioni uses the literary device in a most peculiar yet appealing way, utilizing a third person science fiction narrative from a main character living in contemporary Italy without any trace of science fiction in his actual life. In this eccentric and curious love story, Antoino, a loyal chauffeur without much ambition or passion save for his love of science fiction, finds himself drawn into the lives of a struggling mother and her daughter after nearly crashing into the girl on one of his routine night drives. He narrates from the books and tales he carries with him religiously and although the events correlate indirectly, having two separate “narratives” playing concurrently (the oral one from Antonio and the visual one from the film itself) adds marvelously complex layers to the movie. Piccioni’s film won its lead actors the best actor and actress awards respectively at the Venice Film Festival and both are marvelous in difficult roles—Antonio is restrained and the mother’s anger gives the actress more of a chance to shine—one actor implodes and the other explodes in a romance that’s both painful, real, and never forced. Makes you curious about the director’s other works—although this one broke box office records in Italy and was nominated for five Donatello awards, I’m eager to track down his previous films, including his debut which earned him the honorable De Sica award back in 1987.