Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Life I Want (2004) Film Review
The Life I Want
Reviewed by: George Williamson
Stefano and Laura meet for the first time at auditions for a new film - a period drama set in 19th century Italy. He is a handsome, well-seasoned actor and she is a relative newcomer, but it's instantly clear that they have an incendiary screen presence together and they are cast as the two leads - the husband and his lover.
After their initial reading they start to rehearse together and, after the first days of shooting, end up sleeping together. Their personalities begin to blur with those of the characters they play on set and they become wrapped in a network of old relationships, hurting each other with their jealously and selfishness in an inevitable downward spiral. As the film nears completion they realise that in order to have a future together they will both have to change their lives.
The Life I Want focusses on how fame affects individuals, documenting the personality slide of the two leads impeccably. Stefano is initially portrayed as an unemotional acting machine, incapable of loving, or even understanding another human being, especially despising himself for what he's become - a fraud, no longer accepting projects based on their merit. Laura represents everything that he wants; she is an innocent, as yet uncorrupted, a genuine person in a world of silver tongues and those who would use him for their own gain.
Thus their affair begins, but things can't remain this simple and soon the situation is reversed and Stefano sways between cold envy over her blossoming career and fury about possible infidelities; she has to fight to convince him that her emotions are genuine. To further complicate things the characters that they are playing go through similar relationship traumas and, as they conduct their affair, the dialogue sometimes intertwines so performance blends with reality.
While the cinematography is not exceptionally striking, the costumes - especially the day to day clothing - are beautiful, oozing Italian style. The central performances from Luigi Lo Cascio and Sandra Ceccarelli are sublime, free from the usual heavy handedness used to indicate acting within a film, instead showing nuanced differences in their roles when in character. Things do become a little sentimental towards the end - the first half of the film is by far the stronger and much more interesting - but it never reaches the sacharine drenched improbability of a Holywood product.
The film-within-a-film concept is one that has been used many times, but it is rarely executed as well as this.Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2005