Monday, June 3, 2013

Open Roads 2013: Terrorism 'n Time Travel Susanna Nicchiarelli's DISCOVERY @ DAWN

Having just come from a film -- Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy -- that dealt with terrorism from decades past, here we have another that tackles a terrorist event (fictionalized) a mere dozen years later (1981) in which, in a terrifically filmed early scene -- fast, shocking, irreversible -- a murder takes place. And then the movie melds into a tale of, well, a kind of counter-terrorism via time-travel fantasy using a telephone. No. Yes! This should not work, not on much of any level, and yet it (sort of) does.

Buoyed by some very fine performances, from one of Italy's most appealing and emotionally savvy actresses, Margherita Buy (shown below, who seems always to appear, sometimes often, at Open Roads), and from the film's director and co-writer Susannah Nicchiarelli, (shown above), as sisters Caterina (Ms Buy) and Barbara, whose dad disappears soon after that murder, THE DISCOVERY AT DAWN is an odd duck indeed. Dealing with a fragmented family twenty years later, in which the mother is now dead and the older sister seems somehow out of place in her job and in her love relationship, while her younger sibling (Ms Nicchiarelli) remains an "outsider" even more at sixes and sevens with the world.

A visit to close down and sell the family's old beach house, which has not been used by family members for years now, sets in motion the events that make up the movie and take us back and forth in time to past and present, while offering a set of rather interesting and diverse characters along the way.

Among these are other professors at the university where Caterina teaches, one of whom (above) is a bit more than Cat's friend; her husband of many years (a lovely performance from Sergio Rubini, below); the band that Barbara manages and among whose members one fellow seem to stand out; and a woman from the past who does not want that past brought up again.

And then there's that telephone (below) in the old beach house, unplugged but oddly still working that manages to connect Caterina with....  Well, you'll see -- if you manage to get to this film during its Open Roads run. It seems to me that there are characters and plot aplenty here, so I wonder why Ms Nicchiarelli felt the need to go for this fantasy/time travel theme, as well? Unless, of course, we are to take this as somehow imaginary, or as a psychological unfolding of something that Caterina actually knew, even then, on some repressed level, as a child.

In any case, the film is interesting enough, and certainly quite well acted, filmed with some style and written with a keen handling of characterization. I have to recommend it, if only to see what some others of you feel about it and how well (or not) you think it works. (If you bought this kind of linking-past-and-present in the Gregory Hoblit/Toby Emmerich male weepie Frequencyfrom 2000, then you may very well buy it here -- from a female perspective and with less sudsy emotion on display.)

The Discovery at Dawn plays Opens Roads (at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center) on Saturday, June 8, at 1:30pm and again Monday, June 10, at 4pm. Click here to see the entire series' program and showtimes.


Verlene said...

This is cool!

James van Maanen said...

I'm not sure, Verlene, what your foam mattresses from Amazon have to do with Discovery at Dawn -- other than maybe a good night's sleep. But thanks for posting and perhaps doing some dumb, and fairly useless, marketing.