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Monday, June 12, 2017

Francesca Comencini's “Stories of Love that Cannot Belong to This World”

Francesca Comencini

Francesca Comencini’s "Stories of Love that Cannot Belong to This World" (Amori che non sanno stare al mondo) will be shown at the 2018 edition of the Locarno Film Festival.

Adapted from Comencini's book, the film has been described as “a drama that takes an ironic but lucid look at the way in which women deal with the end of a relationship.” After seeing the film, I would say that it’s the story of how one woman deals with the end of a relationship. It's the delusional motivation for which she stayed that we can all understand on some level. 

The film follows Claudia (Lucia Mascino) and Flavio (Thomas Trabacchi), two very different people but deeply in love nonetheless. Their tumultuous, passionate relationship is driven by powerful feelings, but they are simply not good for each other. Their sincere love, affection and attraction keep them emotionally and physically attached and unable to leave even though they often argue. However, an indifferent comment made by Claudia is Flavio's last straw and he finally breaks away. The film is a series of flashbacks woven with moments in the present. There are surprises and unexpected twists. At times, it gets frustrating to watch Claudia’s desperation and codependency, but it’s worth staying in the trenches to witness her gratifying revelation at the end.

Mascino’s performance is exceptional. Claudia’s emotional rollercoaster takes her to extreme highs and lows. Although Claudia has an eccentric personality, she is relatable because there are many layers to her. You will not identify with all of them, but as Mascino reveals the complexities and idiosyncrasies of her character, you will find common ground.

Comencini’s dialogue and direction compliment each other in terms of intensity. There is a strong element of fiction and fantasy, and the performances are very intense. At times, they are over the top. This is not a lighthearted film. Comencini had a clear vision and brought that vision to life. 

Comencini is no stranger to American audiences. In 2004, she presented "Mi piace lavorare" ( I Like to Work), a story of how one woman deals with harassment in the workplace, at Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in New York. Then in 2008, her documentary "In the Factory," which recounts Italy’s economic progress and challenges, was shown, made its North American premiere there, too. 

A scene from Amori che non sanno stare al mondo
I met Francesca Comencini last October at Rome's MAXXI Museo during the Festa del Cinema di Roma as part of a tribute to Luigi Comencini. The commedia all'italiana director's four daughters Paola, Cristina, Francesca and Eleonora were the featured guests of an interesting discussion in which stories and memories alternated with sequences from their father's films chosen by each one of his daughters.
 At Rome's MAXXI Museo with the Comencini Sisters
Francesca's comments and memories of her father were funny and endearing. She seems to have a natural sense of humor like her father.

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