Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:25 am 
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A round of couples and seasons revives a frozen heart

Francesco Calogero's sixth feature is his first in sixteen years. It's a suave, deeply thought round of romances and temptations flowing symbolically through the seasons and revolving around a mature architect, Andrea (Claudio Bossoso), a sparkling young woman of Arab descent, Hikma (Desirée Noferini) , and a young would-be writer, Riccardo ( an expressive Angelo Campolo). There is also Riccardo's wife Rosanna (Anita Kravos), an anesthesiologist, and Hikma's controlling Muslim brother, Nabil (hedy Krissane). There is arch, ironic fun in the early dialogue, which shows off Riccardo's pretensions and Hikma's frustrations. His wife excuses Riccardo, at the moment a shoe salesman, saying he's really a writer, but not yet published because he is holding out for greater things. At a party when asked what he writes he says "science fiction" and "hard boiled." He chooses "Dick" as the first name of his nom de plume as a tribute to Philip K., and is not the only admirer on hand of this writer.

But at a New Year's Eve party Riccardo meets Hikma, and when the seasons roll round from winter to spring she is pregnant with his child. Andrea nourishes a quiet, repressed sorrow from the tragic loss, literally, of his wife Sophia five years earlier, and with her their unborn child (she fell in the sea and was never found). He sleepwalks through his work and his life; Bossoso at his best moments resembles the Daniel Auteuil of Un coeur en hiver. Andrea saves himself, in a way, by rescuing Riccardo and Hikma (cast off by Nabil for her mistake), moving back to his villa by the sea, which he was going to sell, and sharing it with them; And so Riccardo leaves his wife - but the departure is not permanent. He starts working at a menial hospital job that he hates, and can't write; anyway, nothing he writes succeeds. Hikma is unhappy too, because she wanted to go to university and study an instrument. Before long they are yelling at each other. But here, where Calogero turns from sly dialogue to emotional outbursts, he's less successful and less convincing.

Despite her discontent, Hikma is comfortable with Andrea and later says her times at his villa were her happiest; when Riccardo dumps her, pretending to be away for work, Andrea and Hikma bond. And eventually Andrea starts to come to terms with is sorrow over the loss of his wife and to come back to life. Rosanna comes back into the picture, and so does Nabil: in fact they have never left since Riccardo has been working at the hospital and Andrea and Nabil are on-and-off discussing an architectural project. Andrea's return to the world also involves a revival of his architectural firm's projects, inspired partly by his best friend Giovanni (Nino Frassica).

The writer-director makes use of the seasons, architecture, the sea, and indoors-outdoors as themes and brings in references to A Midsummer Night's Dream. The over-thinking may weigh down the film at times, and nothing quite comes up to the sly ironies of the sprightly early dialogue. But Second Spring has a graceful flow, and is an entertaining, highly watchable, even at times beautiful film.

Second Spring/Seconda primavera, 108 mins., debuted at the Trieste Film Festival. It was released in Italy 4 Feb. 2016. Screened as part of the SFFS New Italian Cinema series Nov. 19- 2016. It is scheduled as the opening nifht film.

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