Rome dies of thirst and also of sleep. Paolo Virzì signs his sardonic comedie humaine, in the shadow of St. Peter’s. “Drought”, presented out of competition at the 79th Venice Film Festival, is a film born when the streets of the Eternal City were deserted due to the pandemic. While the waters of the Tiber are a distant memory, the metropolis is teeming with desperate, angry, vain, frightened, petty human beings. On the notes of Mina’s song “You burst inside my heart”, an Apocalypse takes place between cockroaches and viruses. But hope is always the last to die. And the hashtag #romacelafarà foreshadows that perhaps the worst is over. But since it is a director like Virzì, the famous line by Ennio Flaiano also comes to mind “Courage, the best is over”cpublished by Ettore Scola in The terrace
Scripted by Paolo Virzì, together with Francesca Archibugi, Paolo Giordan and Francesco Piccolo, Drought marked the return of the director from Livorno to the Lido. The first time was in 1997 with the film Ovosodo, which won the Grand Prix. In 2017 she presented the contest Ella & John – The leisure seeker. Finally, in 2019 he participated as a juror, in the edition that awarded the Golden Lion to the Joker by Todd Phillips. Of course, times have changed, but the humanity imagined by Virzì continues to be represented without pietism or cheap moralism. Doctors, actors, nurses, drivers, lawyers, political fixers, prisoners, politicians, students, warders do their best or their worst in a dried-up Rome. It hasn’t rained for three years and even human relationships seem parched by this water emergency. The blue planet risks turning into Dune’s Planet Arrakis, with cockroaches instead of worms threatening mankind. But we continue to exchange photos of private parts with the cell phone or to post improbable tutorials to grab a handful of “Likes” or capture a few more followers. So between a populist banner that reads: “Neither red nor black, but only free thoughts, people seem truly mad, while hatred grows like thirst, in a city where you wash with tonic water.
Silvio Orlando, Valerio Mastandrea, Elena Lietti, Tommaso Ragno, Claudia Pandolfi, Vinicio Marchioni, Monica Bellucci, Diego Ribon, Max Tortora, Emanuela Fanelli, Gabriel Montesi, Sara Serraiocco. The choral adjective is really apt when it comes to the cast of Drought. And Paolo Virzì, magnificent in directing the actors, manages to characterize the many protagonists of the film, moreover with a few homages to the great masters of Italian comedy, which the Livorno-born filmmaker knows by heart. Just think of the expert who, to talk about the environmental emergency on television, in his second participation in the programme, insists on more accurate hair and make-up. The Will of Francis con Vittorio Gassman priest obsessed with make-up, taken from The Monstersi, episodic masterpiece signed by DIno RIsi
On the other hand, the story refers to the Short Cuts by Raymond Carver, in a Rossinian crescendo of relationships that fit together, events that intertwine, degrees of separation that are revealed. So that the characters like the tiles of a mosaic in the end give life to a fresco characterized by a very black irony, but not without a desire for consolation and love. Dehydrated and (dis)connected, the protagonists of the film are neither good nor bad, but simply humans who hope not to run out of juice. Because as Chateaubriand wrote “Forests precede civilizations, Deserts follow.” And in front of that initial scene with the blond Tiber, now evaporated, transfigured into a sepulcher for an ancient Roman statue from the Donus Aurea, chills come, while a voice-over mentions the “very strong smell of putrefaction”.
It is certainly not accidental that the subject of Drought sia was conceived by Virzi, together with Francesco Piccolo, Paolo Giordano and Francesca Archibugi, during the Pandemic dated 2020. But the filmmaker’s powerful and acute reflection goes beyond the lockdown and the coronavirus epidemic. Film is sort of pamphlet film about a not too imaginary future. of the arctic will have finished merging, the water will regain the space it deserves. We are the blue planet, not red, nor yellow, but blue. But we needn’t be afraid of it. Glorious and lasting civilizations have flourished on the water. I’m not worried about change, but about transformation. In short, water is our natural element. We come from the amniotic fluid and we are waiting to go back. On land we are only on loan.”