Crialese in Venice 2022 with his most intimate film: “Immensity is nothing but a question of genre”

(Adnkronos / “I dreamed one day of being mature enough to be able to tell this story, with the awareness of the right language. At 30 I would not have been able to represent certain things, now I have tried and I am happy with what I have done. I have granted myself an expressive freedom, not really of revelation, which follows conscious choices to address what is closest to my heart: the theme of freedom “. Emanuele Crialese returns to competition in Venice eleven years after Terraferma (which earned him the Special Jury Prize), eleven years later, in fact, his last film, and he does so with L’immensione, “the film that I have always pursued, it has always been ‘my next movie’, but each time it gave way to another story, as if I had not yet reached the right maturity and therefore never felt ready enough. It is my most personal film, a journey into memory through memories, sometimes clear and sometimes faded, and impressions of a past time, revisited and reworked by today’s experience ”.

Written by the director together with Francesca Manieri and Vittorio Moroni, The Immensity will be distributed by Warner Bros. starting from September 15th. We are in Rome, in the 70s: a world suspended between neighborhoods under construction and variety still in black and white, social achievements and family models that are now outdated. Clara (Penélope Cruz) and Felice (Vincenzo Amato) have just moved into a new apartment. Their marriage is over: they no longer love each other, but they can’t break up. To keep them united, only the children on whom Clara pours all her desire for freedom. Adriana (Luana Giuliani), her eldest, has just turned 12 and is the attentive witness to Clara’s moods and the growing tensions between her parents. Adriana rejects her name, her identity, she wants to convince everyone that she is a boy and this obstinacy of her brings the already fragile family balance to a breaking point.

While the children are waiting for a sign to guide them, be it a voice from above or a song on TV, everything around and inside them changes. “Basically I always deal with the same arguments, as then (in Breath, Nuovomondo and Terraferma, ed) I talked about migrations, even here we talk about a path, a shift, a transition: but the main theme is not that of the identity of rather, it revolves around the discourse of the relationship, of how we can change ”, explains Crialese, who adds:“ We are what we are because we are, but if the other were not present, to what extent and in what way would we exist? Identity is relational, in the case of this film it is a story that is expressed through the relationship of children with parents, children of a relationship where love no longer exists. And this disorientation children express through their own bodies “.

The relationship that emerges strongly is that between Adri and his mother Clara, played by Penélope Cruz, again competing in Venice one year after the Coppa Volpi won with Madres Paralelas and also present in the Orizzonti film, On the Fringe: ” that I play there is enough madness to be able to survive the life in which he finds himself. She feels trapped in her house, she has no escape plan, the only escape she has from her is through the television screen, which reconnects her to the world of dance, music, dreams. She can’t take it anymore, she feels she has to pretend every day in front of her children, and even today there are so many women trapped in their homes, trying to pretend. And to survive even unspeakable violence. These are terrible stories ”.

This figure “is an accomplice, an important reference, perhaps it is the mother’s love that nourishes, gives courage to this choice. The mother as a woman, in that context, is described as a bit of a prisoner of patterns, of a marital situation that does not free her “, explains the director, who on the choice to entrust the role to Penélope Cruz says:” In her I see the female archetype is the woman of all time, of the past, of the present, of the future. This eternal, immense being of her meant that I didn’t even have to readjust the dialogues: she recited in Italian with a Spanish accent, who cares, this thing about the otherness of the language also fell into her hands. It was perfect ”.

And the actress reflects on the numerous mother roles she has played to date: “Only with Pedro (Almodóvar, ed.) I was a mother five times out of seven films. I have a very strong maternal sense and I am very fascinated by what happens inside every family: all this provides a lot of material, there is an infinite world to discover, my fascination for this theme has always guided me. Today the most important thing for me is family. And the mother that I bring to the screen this time represents many mothers at the same time: she is a complex and multifaceted character, already so alive on the pages of the screenplay, I fell in love with her “.

“My mother was alone, she hid with me, for her it was a problem, for me a way of existing, she and I were very accomplices, she suffered from my pain, I suffered from the pain I caused her”, recalls Crialese , who adds: “We are talking about a time when separating was not conceivable, I remember that my grandmother and my grandfather in front of their daughter’s bruises told her ‘made to love’ …”.

Continuing on the autobiographical matrix of the film, Crialese continues: “Adriana’s character is inspired by my childhood, my story, obviously here she is transfigured, because I tried to represent a personal story in a universal key. If I wanted to do something about gender identity I would have made a documentary, but I wouldn’t have been able to because I like poetry: I’m not a naturalist, I’m looking for the truth but I’m less attracted to reality. Children often teach us, they are great teachers because they take us beyond our borders, because theirs are evolutionary proposals in total sincerity ”.

The choice of the leading actress, Luana Giuliani, took place instead after a search “which started on several fronts, in Rome, among girls possibly engaged in somewhat masculine sports. Luana – says the director – is a little girl who competes with men, she does motorcycling. In her I glimpsed that look that I felt would lead me to review things, my parents, my brothers, I needed to bring out my soul. Then, as always, the set for a child is something very, very difficult to manage, because during the shooting they are treated like gods but they are children who then have to return to a reality, theirs, so it is difficult to deal with what you represent while you recite when you then return to your life ”.

As for the expectations with the public, Crialese hopes that the audience “will ask themselves questions about what freedom is for each of us, the one that gives you courage, putting yourself to the test every day, with your own limits, freeing himself from the constant messages about being afraid, about the things that frighten ”.

“To reassure others – explains the director – I have always had to adopt survival strategies. Rest assured, I will not take anything away from you, I will not take anything away from males or females, my femininity is all here, inside of me. I was born biologically a woman, am I a man like any other? Don’t worry, no. I am other, and if this other upsets because it escapes the classifications, I’m sorry, but what can I do about it? I am a person, a human being, I have rights, but above all I am what I do, what I believe in. There is no trick and there is no deception: the best thing about being a man is also having a female part: I am who I am, I try to keep my polarity, multiple, I do not pose a threat to nobody. Biologically I was born a human, and there is still a strong feminine part in me ”. Finally, the figures of Raffaella Carrà and Patty Pravo recalled in the film: “We started by shooting the scenes chronologically, so the sequence in which the mother and children sing and dance to the tune of Rumore was among the first things done”.

When she learned that Penélope was a big fan of Raffaella “I proposed to meet her, only to discover that she had died a few hours earlier. It was a very sad thing for all of us, we spent the rest of the day singing that song. Carrà’s greatest strength was to always remain herself even if modern, she evolved to other levels, she changed approach, role, and for me this was her most disruptive aspect. “Patty Pravo, on the other hand,” I saw her once as a child, on the dock of Fiumicino: he got out of a white Rolls-Royce, she was a goddess but with that eye that froze you, she was a whirlwind, a daze, it scared me. She represented transgression “.