Good Morning Aman -- Film Review

Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Venice Film Festival -- International Critics' Week

VENICE -- Award-winning shorts director Claudio Noce uses too many stylistic tricks to create mood in "Good Morning Aman," a film in which the camera moves far more than the story. Which is a shame, because in his debut feature Noce shows an assured hand, technically and with his actors.

The film's undeniable cool should connect with younger audiences, but it lacks mature storytelling skills to capture wide audiences. A shorter running time could help it find more play internationally. Although the two leads give great performances, one is an unknown and the other, Valerio Mastandrea, a star in Italy, is slowly building a name in Europe.

Although "Good Morning Aman" looks good initially, it soon becomes redundant. Filmed almost entirely with a handheld camera, most of the shots are extreme closeups that pull in and out of focus or slow down randomly. The camera also flows distractingly back and forth between the characters as they speak.

Aman (Said Sabrie) is a Somali teenager who grew up in the housing projects of Rome. After his best friend Said moves to London, Aman wanders the streets alone, trying to pick up girls and dreaming about making it big in the world. But Italy still offers virtually little beyond menial work to its African and Asian immigrants.

One night, on one of the deserted rooftops he frequents when he can't sleep, he meets Teodoro (Mastandrea), a recluse who ends up giving him money. Recently fired, Aman returns to Teodoro for more, unsure as to whether the older man expects something in return, like sexual favors. Almost an hour passes before we find out why Teodoro started giving Aman money, or really anything about his life story. In the meantime, Aman has become entrenched in the other man's life.

A scene in which Aman and Teodoro visit the latter's boxer friends is particularly strong, revealing Noce's penchant for using real, strong faces and maintaining tense dialogue.

The story is most interesting when it shows Rome's underbelly and the country's unfolding immigration problems. Italians are only now dealing with the first generation of the children of African and Asian immigrants, who grow up stuck between two cultures and overt racism.

Production companies: DNA Cinematografica
Sales: Cinecitta Luce
Cast: Valerio Mastandrea, Said Sabrie, Anita Caprioli, Amin Nur, Giordano De Plano, Adamo Dionisi, Sandra Toffolati
Director: Claudio Noce
Screenwriters: Heidren Schleff, Diego Ribon, Noce
Producer: Dodo Fiori
Director of photography: Michele D'Attanasio
Production designer: Paki Meduri
Music: Valerio Vigliar
Editor: Andrea Maguolo

No rating, 106 minutes
comments powered by Disqus