Film review: GIGI LA LEGGE: a cold, slow and distant docu-drama hybrid [Locarno 2022]

Review of Gigi la legge

gigi the leg (2022) film criticism from 75th edition Locarno film festival, a film written and directed by Alessandro Comodinfeaturing Pier Luigi Mecchia, Ester Vergolini, Annalisa Ferrari, Tomaso Cecotto, Massimo Squareand Rebecca Martin.

Two years in a row now, Locarno has hit me with a surprise documentary – that is, a film that I didn’t know was a documentary. Admittedly, this sense of surprise is likely personal fault due to a lack of due diligence on my part, rather than the more direct film and/or festival classification of the work. But unlike Francesco Montagner’s brilliant fraternity of last year, which by realizing its documentary nature has only enriched thematically, the film by Alessandro Comodin gigi the leg has a neutralizing effect. It offers no additional insight into the language of cinema and the stories we choose to tell with it, but rather softens the edges of this flat, monotonous work to make its constraints a little more understandable.

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Comodin introduces us to the titular Gigi (Pier Luigi Mecchia) in the static 8-minute foreground, in which he’s overheard arguing with an unseen neighbor about his overgrown garden late at night. Long takes are a mainstay throughout the rest of the film, as we follow Gigi on her policing duties through the streets of her unnamed Italian village. The camera rarely leaves the inside of Gigi’s patrol car, with cinematographer Tristan Bordmann relying on both driver-passenger setups, reverse shots and modified dashboard camera views. edge to capture all of his conversations – from flirting with the new answering machine to arguing. about the boss he’s partnered with that day. When the camera exits the vehicle, it’s when Gigi takes quick smoke breaks with the village elders, tests the teenage scooters, or tends to her garden (and it’s at these times that the edit is more likely to resume).

The complete absence of shots of the exterior of Gigi’s vehicle – let alone shots of village settlement that aren’t obscured by tight framing – somehow makes sense as a method of anonymity for the topics on which Comodin chooses to focus. However, the odd mix of documentary and drama (assuming it’s mildly staged or dramatically over the top, otherwise Comodin wouldn’t have given himself a writing credit) still keeps us cold and far too far removed from his subject. . This begs the question of why the genre even had to muddy the waters in the first place, and whether a simple documentary or dramatic narrative would have sufficed.

Mecchia isn’t really a beautifier, but he’s not a revealer either. In fact, he’s not really much — he’s just your average, white bread, upper middle-aged city dweller who is grumpy at times, maybe a bit creepy in his outdated social norms, but otherwise friendly enough to to manage. Yet beyond those surface signifiers, a budding third-act surreal twist that pops out of nowhere, and a long final take that’s sugar-coated for sentimentality, we’re never privy to anything. either on Gigi’s personality.

It is not an argument that greatness or notoriety Needs be a prerequisite for narrative focus. In fact, the simplicity and the monotony (and even the banality) of Gigi’s life are probably the arguments that Comodin tries to make: it is not only a treatise on the quiet life in a rural village and the numbing stability routine, but also a centrist counter-argument to the existence of the police (i.e. the police do not rush into dangerous situations and sacrifice their lives to protect us as the saying goes). conservatives, nor the violent arm of the state as leftists claim). Everyone’s life can be worthy of a story, of course, but with only those aforementioned surface signifiers and without any ambiguity or visual creativity, those potential themes become like our patience over this span of barely an hour and forty- five minutes. : stretched incredibly thin.

Granted, gigi the leg just won the Special Jury Prize at Locarno last weekend, so that confirms my open suspicions that it may just be a personal shortcoming and my own lack of understanding. But it takes two to dance cinematically, and for me gigi kept dragging her feet on the dance floor.

Evaluation: 4/ten

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