A Perfect Day

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Additional Venice Film Festival reviews

Venice Film Festival, In Competition

VENICE -- Ferzan Ozpetek's anticipated new film "A Perfect Day," based on Melania Mazzucco’s eponymous novel, follows the latest trend of intertwining stories with multiple characters all connected to one another. Apt to put off critics, the commercial appeal of the emotionally charged film should guarantee continued domestic success for Ozpetek, as well as abroad, as the director slowly but surely solidifies his international reputation.

After an enigmatic beginning (only in that it does not correspond the ending), during which a single shot is fired, the film then cuts to 24 hours earlier, to depict the events that lead to a horrible tragedy.

The central theme is families on the verge or in the midst of a nervous breakdown, the most dramatic of which are Antonio (Valerio Mastandrea, shedding his trademark lightheartedness) and Emma (Isabella Ferrari, who does the most with her character’s vampish vulnerability). Separated for a year, Emma lives with her mother (Stefania Sandrelli) and her son and daughter, the latter who does not understand her father’s violence and blames her mother for the family’s disintegration.

In addition, there is a declining politician (Valerio Binasco), his unhappy wife (Nicole Grimaudo) and even unhappier son Aris (Federico Costantini), who have obvious feelings for one another.

Ozpetek’s approach to the material is technically solid but too many dramatic conversations shot in close-up from behind feel gimmicky after a while, as does the swelling soundtrack meant to underscore key moments. And while Mastandrea and Ferrari credibly pull off the love-hate cycle upon which their relationship is built, after he hits and threatens to kill her (obviously not cured of his aggression, as he claims when pleading with her to return home) it is hard to believe that she would agree to leave the children in his care that same evening.

But this is endemic to a plot with too many contrived situations and confrontations – such as between Aris and his father – that make little logistical sense and do not help the film lose some its television melodrama feel.

To his credit, Ozpetek opts for the implicit rather than the gratuitous in the bloody climax, but ends on a note so disturbing – we know what awaits one of the main characters as she leisurely enjoys an ice cream cone – that it borders on the gruesome.

Production company: Fandango, RAI Cinema. Cast: Valerio Mastandrea, Isabella Ferrari, Stefania Sandrelli, Monica Guerritore, Nicole Grimaudo, Valerio Binasco, Nicole Murgia, Gabriele Paolino. Director: Ferzan Ozpetek. Screenwriters: Ozpetek, Sandro Petraglia. Producer: Domenico Procacci. Director of photography: Fabio Zamarion. Production designer: Giancarlo Basili. Music: Andrea Guerra. Editor: Patrizio Marone. Sales Agent: Fandango Portobello Sales. 101 minutes.

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