Nostalgia . . . of light and shadows

Feeling homesick? Don't miss the film Nostalgia, screening from September 13th across Australia at the St.Ali Italian Film Festival presented by Palace Cinemas!

Nostalgia by Mario Martone is the centerpiece of  the 23rd  Italian Film Festival and with its preview at Palace Cinema Como, it opens what is very likely bound to be the best edition yet.

In this exceptionally shot and remarkably acted movie, Mario Martone delivers his umpteenth work-of-art. 

Nostalgia by Mario Martone

Felice, terrifically played by Pier Francesco Favino, goes back to his birthplace Naples to visit his mother Teresa after 40 long years, and almost instantly finds himself in an inextricable spiral of both bad and good memories that devour and swallow him.

Premiered at the 75 Cannes Film Festival in the official competition for Palme D'Or, Nostalgia is a profound journey into self-discovery throughout reminiscences. Melancholia pervades the atmosphere in which Felice confronts his own past and his own course to adult life. It's a tangible nostalgia that feeds itself with customs, places and traditions that dwell in the deepest side of our mind.

Mario Martone is an attentive observer of his own town and, here, through the cunning devices of nostalgia, he outlines a very different city. If Paolo Sorrentino in Hands of God unveiled hidden corners of Napoli, Martone - more like Pietro Marcello in Martin Eden - portrays a Naples that is dirtier but real, authentic. An ephemeral city that doesn't allow changes but lives in an immovable limbo. A city where contradictions comfortably coexist.

In one of the most defining scenes, Felice finds himself inside the catacombs. A perfect metaphor of Naples; a place shrouded in light and shadows. In Nostalgia, Martone presents us with those contradictions clearly. Napoli is both God and Camorra, poverty and nobleness, holiness and sin, life and death, all without ever losing its inherent beauty and charm. Felice's mother, Teresa, masterfully interpreted by Aurora Quattrocchi, has an almost "“pasoliniana" weathered face that alone is capable of conveying the soul of Naples in its whole complexity.

Mario Martone

Mario Martone has accustomed us to slow-burn tales of introspection in ordinary life, and Nostalgia is no different. With the use of a well-oiled direction style, delicate and straightforward, Nostalgia tells us nothing more and nothing less than what we can actually see through Martone's lens. No superfluous frills. All enhanced by a clean sound design that accompanies the impeccable cinematography by Paolo Carnera (ACAB- All cops are bastards, Bad Tales, etc.).

Even the ordinary comfortable gurgling noise of the coffee, brewing in the moka pot, shakes Felice's soul to the core. Every detail hollers nostalgia which is after Felice at every step he takes. Nostalgia attacks Felice and us, mere spectators, ferociously and savagely, making it easy for us to identify with Felice in his slow and unrelenting self-punishment.

Mario Martone uncannily portrays the disarmingly draining society we all live in. Nostalgia is not necessarily the memories from a better past we wish to cling on to. Nostalgia is the primal urge to belong.

Italian Film Festival 2022