our film reviews: from armchair viewing to the festival front row

01 November 2006

[Reel-Reviews] Anche libero va bene (Along The Ridge) (5 stars)

I only realised at the final credits that director Kim Rossi Stuart also plays one of the key characters in this film... and that he's also one of the screenwriters. Maybe that explains in part the clear and unadulterated vision that comes through in this film.

11-year-old Tommy, aside from being brilliantly portrayed by Alessandro Moraces, is trying to make sense of his family and keep it together whilst at the same time being confronted with the reality of his mother's absence from family life. Father, sister, and mother all have equally strong roles and complex relationships too.

This is an observational film for others to aspire to. So often the desitre to portray a 'proper end' or 'meaningful storyline' interfere but there is no such dissappointment in this film-making - only deep, deep feeling, sympathy for, and empathy with the characters.

With less focus there are so many places where this Italian family set in Rome could try to make a dramatic statement. Instead, in an exercise of self-control the director keeps the subject, this family, in clear focus for the duration of the film and ultimately makes a far stronger statement: about siblings; about family life; about fathers and sons; about mothers and daughters; about brothers and sisters; about being an 11-year-old in a screwed up world.

This is a film to remind us that we can only really hurt the people we know best and that we gain most of our practice on our own familes.

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