Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Open Roads 2013: Elisa Fuksas' visually ravishing and quietly exploratory NINA

If you're hoping to discover at this year's Open Roads a load/lode of pure visual joy (my idea of it, anyway), don't miss NINA, the stunning narrative film debut of writer/director Elisa Fuksas. In fact, TrustMovies was so taken with this enchanting piece of work that he wants to see it all over again -- and soon. In terms of color, composition, space, light, and architecture (word has it Ms Fuksas, shown below, is the daughter of two of Italy's leading architects and was herself a student of the profession before turning to film-making), it has been a good long while since he has see anything as visually lovely and original as this film.

Yeah, yeah: beautiful, pretty, blah-blah-blah. But what about the story? Well, it's there all right, slight as can be, and mostly hinging on character (three of them: Our heroine, Nina; a young man who is attracted to her; and the little boy who lives in or around her building and is attracted to her in a somewhat different way), but this works just fine for the piece at hand, which, in any case, runs only 78 minutes. So if you possess even one appreciative bone in your body regarding the visual arts, I advise you to line up and take a look. (One of the two performances is already sold out, but I think there may be tickets or stand-bys for the second showing.)

The title character -- a young woman (is she some sort of student?) played with an odd combination of "otherness" and composure by actress Diane Fleri (above and below, right) -- has taken a job dog-and-other-pets-sitting, in addition to her occasional voice teaching, and is also taking (rather than giving) lessons in calligraphy, while almost all of her compatriots and anyone/
everyone else in what looks like some sort of academic environment are off for summer vacation. So she is left, nearly alone, to do her jobs and consider... what? Her life. Her goals. Her desires.

Into that life comes a goof-ily appealing young man (Luca Marinelli, above, center, and below, right; and also seen at this year's Open Roads in Every Blessed Day) who clearly has the hots for her (and she most likely for him) and a young boy who lives in the area and wants something -- friendship, love, mothering? -- from our heroine. Whom she will honor and/or grace with her possible permanent good will is the only plot point that might need fulfilling, though all the people we meet (including the boy and the young man, the pet owners, her calligraphy instructor, her voice students) are fun to get to know the little bit that we do.

Nina herself is something of a cipher, and I think that's what the filmmaker wants. Ms Fleri is lovely to look at and certainly possible to identify with (though her character is a bit of a twit: you fear for the lives of the animals under her care) and that is really all we need. Otherwise, we can bask in the utterly gorgeous visuals -- and wish we were there.

What an eye does Ms Fuksas have for place, person and color, and how well do these combine in her compositions!

The photos above and below barely begin to give you a sense of the beauty on tap in this film. You really have to see it to appreciate it, and the big screen is probably the best place to do so. I saw it on a big screen at home, and certainly will watch it all over again.

Nina plays twice during Open Roads: Saturday, June 8, at 4pm and again Monday, June 10, at 6:30pm. You can view the entire series, with features and showtimes shown, by clicking here.

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