Caiman, The (Il Caimano) (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/10/2006

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Opens London Film Festival: October 24th

Patchy but enjoyable mish-mash of political satire, relationship drama and film-making comedy, though it does require a certain understanding of Italian politics.

What's it all about?
Silvio Orlando plays Bruno Bonomo, a washed-up, Z-grade film producer who's been struggling to get his Columbus epic made for several years. When his director pulls out, the deal collapses, so he turns to a script written by an attractive screenwriter (rising Italian star Jasmine Trinca), a political drama that turns out to be a thinly-veiled portrait of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his dodgy business dealings.

As Bruno scrambles to finance his controversial movie, he becomes increasingly convinced that it represents his last shot at respectability and career resurrection. However, as if he didn't have enough problems, he's also having a hard time dealing with a painful separation from his wife (Margherita Buy).

The Good
The Caiman is Italian writer-director Nanni Moretti's first film since The Son's Room in 2001. It's packed full of ideas and there are some extremely funny sequences, mostly involving Bruno's impassioned ranting.

Orlando is superb as Bruno, managing to retain our sympathy despite his frequently childish behaviour. Jasmine Trinca has genuine star presence – she lights up the screen whenever she appears, despite not having all that much to actually do.

The Bad
The main problem is that the three different strands of the film (political satire, moviemaking comedy, relationship drama) don't hang together very well, resulting in jarring shifts in tone. Also, the film-within-a-film sequences are much more enjoyable than the other two elements, to the point where you start wishing you were watching the political thriller instead.

That said, the political satire elements require a more than passing understanding of Italian politics and Berlusconi in particular, so it frequently feels as if jokes are whizzing over your head.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Caiman is uneven in tone and a little too long, but it's frequently funny and never less than watchable.

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Content updated: 21/09/2018 12:47

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