Reality (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/03/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 116 mins

Well made and sharply observed, this is an engaging and bittersweet comedy-drama anchored by a terrific performance by Aniello Arena, but the film makes its point very early on and outstays its running time as a result.

What's it all about?
Directed by Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah), Reality is set in present-day Naples and stars Aniello Arena as Luciano, a family man and fishmonger who occasionally ‘drags up’ to entertain at family parties. After an encounter with ex-Big Brother contestant-turned-national celebrity Enzo (Raffaele Ferrante), Luciano becomes obsessed with auditioning for ‘Grande Fratello’ and believes he's got through after he's invited to the second round of try-outs in Rome.

However, even after the show begins, the presenters keep dropping hints about new housemates being put in at a later date, so Luciano remains convinced he's on standby and starts suspecting everyone he meets of being sent to spy on him, in order to assess his potential for TV.

The Good
Aniello Arena is excellent as Luciano, who's not entirely to blame for his obsession, since his entire extended family are equally fanatical about the show and keep telling him he should be on it. There's also strong support from Loredana Simioli as Luciano's supportive wife Maria, while Ferrante is entirely convincing as a man plying his 15 minutes of fame for everything it's worth (catchphrase: ‘Never give up!’, said in English).

The script contains some sharp observations in the first half of the film, particularly in regard to the blinding nature of the hunger for fame and the way people behave when they come into contact with a celebrity, even a reality TV celebrity (that said, the film slightly misses an opportunity by refusing to show Enzo ‘off camera’, as it were). In addition, the film is beautifully shot, with Marco Onorato's sun-drenched cinematography making strong use of some authentic Naples locations.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that it makes its point very early on, which leaves it with hardly anywhere to go, dramatically speaking. The result is a film that starts out with a certain amount of satirical bite and dark humour but then gets increasingly depressing, piling on the misery in a way that would make Lars von Trier envious.

Worth seeing?
Reality is a well made and superbly acted comedy-drama that serves as a worthwhile, if depressingly downbeat, cautionary tale. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

Reality (15)
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Content updated: 16/07/2018 00:07

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