La Terra

La Terra

****

Reviewed by: Chris

La Terra begins with a bewildering collage of scenes, with the audience kept in the dark about what's really happening. A heated domestic argument. The two antagonists are barely seen. Of the children witnessing it, the face of the oldest son stares into the camera before cutting to a fast moving train and an empty road.

Intense conversations remain a mystery. Like Luigi, who is coming back to his hometown after a long spell away, we are not up to speed on what has happened in the intervening years. With this roundabout approach, the director steals up on us creating an air of bewilderment and imparts a wry humour to embittered arguments. We slowly gather that Luigi's past includes an accidental murder and that his future will depend on untangling the mess that his three brothers have got themselves into.

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Luigi was only popping into town to sign a few papers, but now everyone expects him to 'do something'. At the centre of his problems is a plot of land left to them by their father, for which Luigi's brothers have very different needs and intentions. Added to the mix are the charms of the lovely Angela, who loves skinny-dipping and running through the rain. Italian passions soon fly fast and furious.

Half way through, another death plunges La Terra into a full-on murder-mystery. The wife-beating nightclub owner Tonino, played brilliantly by director Sergio Rubini himself, is so slimy and sinister as to make the wrangling brothers seem like good kids. "Do you all get on?" asks the police inspector, without the slightest trace of sarcasm. The solution is emotional, tense and changes the relationship between the brothers forever.

La Terra is a remarkable piece of cross-genre Italian cinema from the director who first came to our attention with The Station. It includes impressive performances with an unusual and ingenious plot. The gradually unravelling story makes for compulsive viewing and the excellent characterisation gives us reason to care about the protagonists even before we know what they've done or why.

Colourful scenery, excellent script and a very brisk pace, all combine to entertain without ever talking down to us. Although slightly cluttered, the film rewards the effort needed to assimilate all the details and would withstand repeated viewing. Gems like this remind us that Italian cinema is alive and kicking.

For more information about the Italian Film Festival, visit the official site.

Reviewed on: 17 Nov 2006
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La Terra packshot
Cross-genre film with comedy, accidental murder and land-wrangling.

Director: Sergio Rubini

Writer: Carla Cavalluzzi, Angelo Pasquini, Sergio Rubini

Starring: Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Paolo Briguglia, Massimo Venturiello, Emilio Solfrizzi, Sergio Rubini, Giovanna Di Rauso, Claudia Gerini, Alisa Bystrova

Year: 2006

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Italy

Festivals:

Italian 2006

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