'Love Among the Ruins' ('Amore tra le rovine'): Film Review

Courtesy of SIFF
A too-straight effort suffering from comparisons with "Forgotten Silver"

A fictional Italian silent film is "rediscovered" after an earthquake.

A deeply sincere exercise in movie-nerd fantasy, Massimo Ali Mohammad's Love Among the Ruins imagines the discovery of a long-lost silent Italian film and, not content to tell of its painstaking resurrection, actually produces the fictional artifact for our viewing pleasure. Obvious comparisons to Peter Jackson and Costa Botes's Forgotten Silver will not serve the mock-doc well, as this one is played completely straight, lacking the winking humor and whimsical inventiveness of that 1995 gem. Outside its potential audience of archivists who might enjoy seeing their life's work fictionalized, commercial prospects are very slim.

The first section is played so straight, in fact, that one wonders why Mohammad didn't simply spend his time documenting an actual case of rediscovery. Instead we learn of the fictional Lumini Brothers, with film researchers and professors telling how they stumbled into moviemaking in the silent era and marshaled neighbors in Ferrara, Italy to make a movie with them.

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After hearing some speculations (was it suppressed by Fascists? killed by a bad review?) about how that film wound up being forgotten, then sealed up in the wall of a building, we unexpectedly see "what remains" in its entirety. Unfortunately, this faux-vintage feature lacks the charm that animated The Artist, combining a stiff romance with some melodrama involving World War I and a 1915 dirigible disaster. Technique-wise, Love is occasionally convincing as a manufactured artifact; dramatically, it hardly deserves to have been "rescued" from obscurity.

Production company: Meyerhar Productions

Cast: Mary Di Tommaso, Massimo Malucelli, Stefano Muroni, Filippo Parma, Edoardo Siravo

Director-Screenwriter-Editor: Massimo Alì Mohammad

Producers: Susan Harmon, Richard Meyer

Director of photography: Edo Tagliavini

Production designer: Elisa Leonini

Costume designers: Remo Buosi, Alexander la Rue

Music: Donald Sosin

No rating, 67 minutes

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