Laughing and crying

Laughing director Valerio Mastandrea and Chiara Martegiani on crying on cue

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Chiara Martegiani with Laughing (Ride) director Valerio Mastandrea on crying: "For me it's a nightmare."
Chiara Martegiani with Laughing (Ride) director Valerio Mastandrea on crying: "For me it's a nightmare." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

In the Film at Lincoln Center and Istituto Luce Cinecittà Open Roads: New Italian Cinema program of films in New York, Valerio Mastandrea has a duel role. The director/screenwriter of Laughing (Ride) also stars with Riccardo Scamarcio, Jasmine Trinca and Isabella Ferrari in Valeria Golino's Euphoria (Euforia) which had its première in 2018 at the Cannes Film Festival.

Valerio Mastandrea was Nico Naldini, confidant to Pier Paolo Pasolini played by Willem Dafoe in Abel Ferrara's Pasolini, and Andrea Bottini in Roberto Andò's Long Live Freedom (Viva La Libertà) with Toni Servillo (star of Paolo Sorrentino's Oscar-winning The Great Beauty, Il Divo, Loro) and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. He also starred opposite Alba Rohrwacher in Silvio Soldini's Garibaldi's Lovers (Il Comandante E La Cicogna).

Valerio Mastandrea: "Maybe you've got to reach something and stay in the scene even before crying, just to allow you to cry at the end."
Valerio Mastandrea: "Maybe you've got to reach something and stay in the scene even before crying, just to allow you to cry at the end." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

At the centre of Laughing is Carolina (Chiara Martegiani), whose husband died in a work-related accident. While everybody else around her is wailing and sobbing, she cannot shed a single tear. Her 12-year-old son Bruno (Arturo Marchetti) even attacks her for this perceived coldness and she herself wonders what could be wrong with her for not going through the emotions and motions of the grieving widow.

After the screening, I asked both the first-time director and his star about their relationship to tears on cue.

Anne-Katrin Titze: As professional actors you have to cry on command. When you read a script, is that something where you go "Oh, great I can cry" or is it something that you dread?

Chiara Martegiani: For me it's a nightmare. Crying like this is a nightmare. But when I read the script [of Laughing] the first time, I cried. I cried and I asked him " How am I going to do this movie?" Because I'm crying and she's not crying. But after five, six times I was okay. But usually the most difficult thing for me, is when you go do an audition and you didn't read the script and you know nothing about the character and the story and you have to cry like this. For me it's very difficult to do that. So I need to prepare myself.

Valerio Mastandrea: That's why we had the rain scene. [There is an absurdist scene of indoor rain in Carolina's apartment where water streams down her face.]

Film at Lincoln Center Open Roads: New Italian Cinema poster
Film at Lincoln Center Open Roads: New Italian Cinema poster Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: That's how she prepares!

VM: It was a script idea and symbolic. Because we would like it that the audience break down completely the film language because it's absolutely other but it gives you the idea of freedom, of liberation.

I never cried in my career. Except five years ago I started crying. Without explanation. Because I'm getting older and I know that there's the last shot. No, intimacy with myself, I don't know. For me it's not a technical question, it's more a short trip during a scene.

Maybe you've got to reach something and stay in the scene even before crying, just to allow you to cry at the end. I don't know. I do not ask. In the last five years, two or three times, it happened in a very natural way. I don't know why. Maybe since I am a father something changed. But I'll talk about this with my psychotherapist.

Euphoria (Euforia) will screen on June 12 at 2:00pm - Walter Reade Theater

Claudio Giovannesi's Piranhas (La paranza dei bambini), the opening night film will have a Music Box release at Film at Lincoln Center on August 2.

Loro has been picked up by IFC for an October release in the US.

Beniamino Barrese's The Disappearance of My Mother (Storia di B. - La scomparsa di mia madre) goes to Kino Lorber for a possible November date.

Film at Lincoln Center and Istituto Luce Cinecittà Open Roads: New Italian Cinema runs through June 12.

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