November 10, 2011

La solitudine dei numeri primi (Italy 2010)

The recent title story of a local news magazine was "The end of love - feelings in times of personal liberty". This subject of being incapable of loving and the downside of individual freedom, which is so typical of our modern age, is also at the core of Saverio Costanzo's film "La solitudine dei numeri primi" which is based on Paolo Giordano's bestselling novel. Even if the love in the film, strictly speaking, doesn't really catch fire to begin with. At the time of the somehow conciliatory ending, resignation has already taken over killing off any hope that may have been there somewhere.

The pseudo-cryptic title already gives an idea about the state of mind of the characters but what may still be compelling in the book (which I haven't read), turns out to be rather tedious in the film. The story stretches over three decades and is told as a kind of mystery thriller. There is an event in the childhood of both main characters that will change their lives forever. Mutually attracted, they get closer again and again, but they never manage to really come together. The problem of the film is that it mostly lacks both tension and emotions. There is an oppressive atmosphere right from the beginning that does reflect the inner life and the increasing isolation of the protagonists quite well. But unfortunately, this state of inner emptiness transmits to their outside so it is quite difficult to feel any sympathy for the characters. After a while, you stop caring whether they end up together or not.

It's a shame because there would have been some pre-conditions for a thrilling movie experience: a bestseller as a template, a talented director ("Private" - the feature debut by Saverio Costanzo - won several awards) and a quite appropriately chosen cast which includes such fine actresses as Isabella Rossellini in supporting roles. But ultimately "La solitudine dei numeri primi" shares the fate of many well-produced, but ultimately soulless literary adaptations. Quality cinema? Yes, but without a heart. There are only a few moments that show the potential the film could have head. The film offers some visual pleasures even if Costanzo's kicks over the traces with his directorial ideas from time to time. This is mainly due to the unnecessary stylization and the sometimes annoying use of music in the film.

To conclude, let us hope that the condition of love in the 21st century is not as bad as films like this suggest. It remains very doubtful, however, whether this film is able to rescue any moviegoers from their own lethargy...


Lonely together: Luca Marinelli, Alba Rohrwacher 

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