The Seed of Discord
EmptyVenice Film Festival, Competition
Comparisons to Pedro Almodovar have been impossible to avoid for the multi-talented Papi Corsicato, who started out as an assistant to the Spanish director, and "The Seed of Discord" is no exception. His fifth feature drew mixed responses from the Venice Film Fest press, but with a well-thought out advertising campaign and word-of-mouth, the irreverent, splashy (both in style and substance) romp could do well at home and beyond with general audiences.
Based on the Heinrich Von Kleist short story "The Marquise of O," in the film, beautiful and determined clothing shop owner Veronica (Caterina Murino) finds out she is pregnant the same day that her husband Mario (Alessandro Gassman), a fertilizer salesman, discovers he is sterile. As Veronica tries to make sense of the situation, no one believes she was faithful to Mario, not her pushy mother (Valeria Fabrizi), ballsy best friend (Isabella Ferrari) or even, in a further tribute to Almodovar, a nun who calls the idea of an immaculate conception nonsense. The only person willing to help her is enamored security guard Gabriele (Michele Venitucci).
From its opening sequence - straight out of "The Man Who Loved Film" - "The Seed of Discord" is also an affectionate patchwork of cinematic references. With nods to everything from "The Battleship Potemkin" to "Gone With the Wind" and "Kill Bill," even the film's score is made up primarily of songs from soundtracks, by Ennio Morricone and Luis Bacalov, among others.
The actors too are gleefully self-referential, playing parodies of their off-screen reputations, especially Gassman as the handsome but dim-witted philanderer and Martina Stella as a vapid Barbie look-alike. Murino is not yet a star internationally, but after appearing in "Casino Royale" and "St. Trinian's," with her striking beauty and ability to carry a film it is just a matter of time.
Corsicato has obvious fun playing with convention, turning the way, way up music in tender scenes, such as when Veronica and Mario finally stop squabbling to make love in a cornfield; or superimposing close-ups and long shots in a surreally illuminated park in which Gabriele finally reveals his feelings to Veronica.
And like with Almodovar's work, the heart of "The Seed of Discord" belongs to women and the lies couples tell each other to smooth out relationships. In a humorously poignant moment, Mario makes Veronica swear that they will always tell each other the truth only to lie seconds later.
The loud color palette (oranges, reds and purples abound) and 1960s and 70s-inspired sets and costumes are also wonderfully offset by the anonymity of an ultra-modern neighborhood in Naples, all glass skyscrapers and concrete.
Production companies: Rodeo Drive, Medusa, Sky.
Cast: Caterina Murino, Alessandro Gassman, Martina Stella, Michele Venitucci, Valeria Fabrizi, Isabella Ferrari, Iaia Forte, Monica Guerritore.
Director: Papi Corsicato.
Producer: Marco Poccioni, Marco Valsania.
Director of photography: Ennio Guarnieri.
Production designer: Antonio Farina.
Editor: Giogio Franchini.
Sales Agent: Rodeo Drive.