Il Caimano

Il Caimano


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Age is the great leveller. It's also a huge joke, not for the muggins suffering its many humiliations, but for those who watch and wait. Failure is also funny, which is why it is impossible to make a comedy about success that isn't saccharine sweet, or a big fat lie.

Nanni Moretti's Il Caimano takes a sideway swipe at Berlusconi, which has proved wildly popular at the Italian box office. However, like all his movies, things are never as simple as they look. There are issues, sub plots, additional storylines weaving and waving their way through the infrastructure.

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Bruno Bonomo (Silvio Orlando) is infamous for producing B-movie quickies, with titles like Lady Cop In Stilettos. After marrying the star of his last, worst film, he hasn't made a thing for 10 years. Now he is attempting to finance a low budget epic about Columbus after America, using bathtub galleons and a cast of twenties.

When his backers show him the door and his director, who hasn't worked for 25 years, walks off the set in a huff and his loyal secretary, the only one with any organisational skills, tells him he's in debt to the tune of 40,000 euros and his wife (Margherita Buy) demands a separation, most people would turn their faces to the wall. Not Bruno. He dives deeper into denial and clutches at the only straw within his grasp.

That straw is a script, thrust into his hand by a girl (Jasmine Trinca) with a baby at one of his public screenings. It is an angry left-wing satire on Berlusconi's record as Italy's political leader. Despite being attacked by critics for fascist leanings in his films in the past, he agrees to work with her.

At the same time, he is doing everything to save his marriage, telling elaborately inventive bedtime stories to their two boys, keeping everything light and fun in the hope that the thought of upsetting the family unit will make his wife change her mind.

Orlando's performance is so expressive and heartfelt that Bruno becomes an immensely sympathetic character. There are no villains, only people with separate agendas, and there is no message, only notes from a mid-life crisis.

The script is intelligent and inconclusive on a journey that switchblades from despair to hope to self-delusion, without ever losing a child's talent for play.

Reviewed on: 18 Nov 2006
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Italian B-movie film producer attempts to save his marriage, avoid bankruptcy and pitch a movie attacking Berlusconi.
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Director: Nanni Moretti

Writer: Nanni Moretti, Francesco Piccolo, Federica Pontremoli, Heidrun Schleef

Starring: Silvio Orlando, Margherita Buy, Jasmine Trinca, Michele Placido, Daniele Rampello, Giacomo Passarelli, Nanni Moretti, Giuliano Montaldo, Antonio Luigi Grimaldi, Paolo Sorrentino, Elio De Capitani, Tatti Sanguinetti, Jerzy Stuhr, Toni Bertorelli

Year: 2006

Runtime: 112 minutes

Country: Italy/France

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