Review: Reality



“Reality” is about one man who craves notoriety, whether it be through cross-dressing or starring in a reality TV show. Even though he has a family who adores him, his self-interest and growing obsession with chasing fame propels him to risk all he has – his true reality.

The allure of celebrity, that double-sided aphrodisiac, ostensibly promises some sort of immortality and unconditional acceptance. Luciano, our obsessed man perfectly played with manic drive by Aniello Arena, thinks he has a chance to be on a reality TV show. This possibility of potential popularity irresistibly lures him from all that is really important.

Made in Italy, “Reality” explores the strange fascination people have with celebrity. Like a moth to a flame, Luciano’s obsession begins in bizarre ways. At first, he is at a wedding with his family garishly dressed as a woman. For his little daughter, he seeks the autography of a “Big Brother” star, stalking him through the wedding guests. Later, he is out more for himself and stalks the star, eventually ending up in a bathroom grate asking the man for a favor.

At first, we are amused. We allow our man some eccentricities. But as things progress, as Luciano sees less and less of “reality” and fantasizes he is in demand and has star quality for his own part in “Big Brother,” we see he is in danger of slipping into a bottomless abyss of no return.

Reflect on instances of celebrity adulation: the screaming, incontinent girls at Beatles’ concerts, the paparazzi so obsessed with Diana they cause her deadly car crash, and the crush of fans who have stampeded themselves to death at soccer games.

What human mechanism is being triggered? In what ways do humans gravitate to adulate fame like this “Reality” man?

I’m not suggesting that this is going to be everyone’s favorite movie, but it did win the 2012 Grand Prix award, the second highest trophy, at Cannes. For sure it will provoke a little conversation and introspection. “Reality” is truly a foreign art film, directed towards reflection and insight.

“Reality” is just one of the interesting films being shown this month at the 2013 Portland International Film Festival, where 136 selections from more than 40 countries are showing Feb. 7 to 23.

The 36th Portland International Film Festival
Showing Feb. 14, 2013

Film Credits
Director: Matteo Garrone
Producers: Domenico Procacci and Matteo Garrone
Writers: Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Matteo Garrone and Massimo Gaudioso
Cast: Aniello Arena, Loredana Simioli, Claudia Gerini
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Release: May 18, 2012 (Cannes)
Runtime: 113 minutes
Country: Italy and France
Language: Italian with English subtitles

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