Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 4:04 pm 
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A droll road movie

Isidoro (Nicola Nocella) is known as Easy but his life isn't that, not for him. His career as a go-kart racer has ended, ostensibly because he has grown too fat. But he admits later another cause that may have to do with an addiction to unspecified drugs. And easy is depressed, or rather very glum. Easy, and the events that follow, would be very much at home in a film by the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki. Depression becomes a kind of cheerfulness, gloom a kind of hope. When all other lights go out, that little candle remains inextinguishable.

And like all great travelers, Easy is granted a mission. A Ukrainian worker called Taras dies on a building project run by Easy's brother Filo, and Filo gives Easy something to do: drive a hearse with Taras' coffin to his home in Ukraine, in the Carpathians. He is given an apple, a nice new hearse, a smart phone set to translate from Italian to Hungarian, and a GPS programmed to direct him the whole way. And off he goes. A simple task.

Not so simple. In fact a journey of almost epic frustrations, but also of much drollery. The director, Andrea Magnani, who hails from Rimini, the birthplace of Fellini, makes fine use of eccentric locations and peculiar people. As soon as Easy gets through Hungary into Ukraine, and gets lost, while he is on the phone talking to his brother, a car drives up on the highway - Easy has gone out in a field to get phone reception - and drives away the hearse. The coffin they leave.

Easy proves remarkably steadfast in sticking with the coffin and his task. He will be on a horse-drawn cart piloted by an aged, bearded, somnolent geezer; floating down a river astride the wooden box; driving a tractor with the box mounted in front. He will pull it uphill on wheels.

This is partly, but not wholly, a journey of transformation. When border guards complain that Easy's passport photo doesn't show him in his current big bushy beard, he steps inside the gents' and shaves it off. Somehow Easy's girth shields and sustains him. It is as if he has a lot of layers to protect him. If some of them wear away, he's still inside. But, "Wherever you go, there you are." It is always Easy and it is never easy.

In the end, high up in the Carpathians, he reaches the deceased Ukrainian worker's proper family with his coffin and they provide him with a proper burial. Now what do I do? our hero asks. Fade to black.

Easy was nominated for Best Actor and Best New Director at the David di Donatello Awards and won the Jury Prize for Best Actor at the Monte Carlo Comedy Film Festival.

Andrea Magnani, born in Rimini in 1971, lives in Rome and Trieste, and has a degree in political science. He was a finalist for the Solinas Prize in 2002 and was selected for the first edition of the Berlinale Talent Campus. Magnani writes for cinema and television. He has directed several documentaries, including Caffè Trieste (2009), awarded Best Documentary at the Trieste Film Festival (Zone di Cinema), and Watching Me is Enough (Basta guardarmi, 2006), selected for the World Film Festival in Montreal and the Giffoni Film Festival, among others. He is writer and director, along with Davide Del Degan, of Paradise, a co-production between Italy and Slovenia, in theaters in 2018. For television, he is the writer of the series Inspector Coliandro. Easy (Un viaggio facile facile) is his first feature film.

Easy/Un viaggio facile facile, debuted at Locarno Aug. 2017, also showing at (logically) Helsinki and Zurich. It was screened for this review as part of the 2018 San Francisco New Italian Cinema series, showing 4:30 p.m. Sun. 2 Dec. 2018. Easy won the NICE City of Florence Award for Best Dramatic Feature by a First or Second Time Director at the San Francisco event.

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