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The Face of Another (Il volto di un'altra): Rome Review

IL VOLTO DI UN'ALTRA Still - H 2012

The Bottom Line

A campy and cooked up slice of Italian satire.

Venue

Rome Film Festival (competing)

Cast

Laura Chiatti, Alessandro Preziosi, Lino Guanciale, Iaia Forte

Director

Pappi Corsicato

Pappi Corsicato's Rome competition entry is a celebrity satire where a famous talk show host and her plastic surgeon husband try to win a $12.8 million insurance payoff.

ROME -- Italian director Pappi Corsicato dishes out another high-camp comic romp with Il volto di un’altra, an outlandish celebrity satire where a famous talk show host and her plastic surgeon hubby try to nip and tuck their way into a $12.8 million (€10 million) insurance payoff. Glitzy, glossy, gabby and entirely over-the-top, this Rome competition entry is too much of an acquired taste to see much traction beyond the boot, although it’s nutty enough to light up fest sidebars in Europe and elsewhere.

Often described as Italy’s answer to Pedro Almodovar, with an added dose of John Waters’ trademark trashiness, Corsicato achieved some recognition on the 90’s festival circuit with comedies like Black Holes and Libera, while his last feature, 2008’s The Seed of Discord, played in competition at Venice.

Il volto di un’altra—which translates to The Face of Another—is most definitely in line with the filmmaker’s previous oeuvre, kicking off with a horror movie pastiche where mummified facelift patients wander their way back to the elite Belle Vie Clinic, followed by an 8 1/2-style sequence where the nose and boob job survivors roam the center’s illustrious gardens. And this is only for the first three minutes.

As we soon learn, the clinic is run by flamboyant shyster, René (Alessandro Preziosi, Loose Cannons), whose blond-haired bimbo-ish wife, Bella (Laura Chiatti, Somewhere), gets axed from her primetime TV gig and then smashed up in a car accident, for which René realizes they can claim a hefty insurance reward.

The accident in question is caused by the clinic’s brawny maintenance man (Lino Guanciale, Angel of Evil), who inadvertently knocks a bathroom fixture off his truck and through Bella's windshield. This gives Corsicato the excuse to film actress Chiatti’s blood-filled face at the bottom of a toilet bowl, and the shot pretty much sums up what the filmmaker thinks of his characters. (If this isn’t clear enough, he manages to cover the rest of the cast in feces by the end of the movie.)

As it turns out, Bella’s only been mildly injured, so she and René have to spend the remainder of the story hiding her good looks from a mob of reporters, nurses and doctors, not to mention various double-crossing colleagues, including one another. Throw in the fact that the TV star’s fans have set up a permanent carnival outside the clinic, and that a meteorite (with the classy name of “Tony”) is hurtling towards the planet, and you’re left with a campy caricature of modern-day VIP culture that’s never believable but sometimes enjoyable in its sheer outrageousness.

Shot in slick, candy-colored compositions by Italo Petriccione (When the Night), and featuring a nonstop soundtrack that includes everything from The Nutcracker Suite to Les Baxter to the instrumental track “Heavy Action” (aka the theme from Monday Night Football), the film is an overdose of outré sights and sounds that’s as ridiculous as it is insolent.

Venue: Rome Film Festival (competing)
Production companies: R&C Produzioni, Rai Cinema
Cast: Laura Chiatti, Alessandro Preziosi, Lino Guanciale, Iaia Forte
Director: Pappi Corsicato
Screenwriters: Pappi Corsicato, Monica Rametta, Gianni Romoli, in collaboration with Daniel Orlando
Producers: Tilde Corsi, Gianni Romoli
Director of photography: Italo Petriccione
Production designer: Andrea Crisanti
Costume designer: Roberto Chiocchi
Editor: Cristiano Travaglioli
Sales: Rai Cinema
No rating, 87 minutes.