Saturday, January 20, 2018

DVDebut: Taron Lexton's IN SEARCH OF FELLINI proves (very) light on the Fellini

Can a movie get by almost exclusively on charm and visual beauty at the expense of any kind believable story line? Prior to seeing IN SEARCH OF FELLINI, the first full-length film from South  African-born Taron Lexton (below), I would have thought this pretty doubtful, but after viewing his said-to-be-based-"mostly"-on-a-true-tale movie, I've got to admit the film works well enough to garner an OK rating.  As gloriously shot by Kevin Garrison in Verona, Milan, Rome and Venice, Italy (oh, yeah -- and in Ohio, too), the cinematography is often so breathtakingly beautiful that you'll be swept away long enough to forget, or maybe just ignore, the rather saccharine and unbelievable tale told here.

As written by Nancy Cartwright and Peter Kjenaas, that story is one of a young girl (played in adulthood by the very lovely Ksenia Solo, below), so pampered and secluded from real life by her mother (Maria Bello, shown at bottom, right) that the poor thing is completely unsuited for autonomous adulthood. So what does she do? She leaves her dying mother to head for Italy all by her lonesome and there to somehow meet her new hero, famed filmmaker Federico Fellini, whose movies she has suddenly discovered via a Fellini festival in her home town. (The film takes place a couple of decades back, as Fellini died in 1993.)

Too dumb to get to Rome where the filmmaker resides, she ends up in Verona, then Venice, before finally arriving at her real destination. But that's all to the good because, along the way, she and we get to view a raft of fabulous locations and also meet and fall in love with what must be the sweetest and most handsome straight male in all of Italy (Enrico Oetiker, below, with Ms Solo).

But onward she must go toward Signore Fellini, and so she also almost gets raped-while-being-filmed by a nasty hunk named (against type) Placido. Not to worry, despite its R rating, this is a feel-good movie par excellence, so when our heroine finally does encounter her hero, it is in perhaps via the most gorgeously lit and filmed restaurant scene in movie history -- with no dialog yet, so that we can instead imagine what is being shared by the two.

Yes, indeed, this is all so silly that it would defy belief -- were it not so lovely to look at. All the leads are super-attractive, and Italy, well, come on: You know how visually enchanting that country can be. So I would suggest placing you brain on hold for the film's 103 minutes and just giving yourself over to its many visual pleasures.

Inter-cut into the film are many moments from the real Fellini catalog. And while Mr. Lexton's work apes the master's, he has filmed his movie with mostly gorgeous actors, while Fellini preferred much more bizarre-looking casts. Both filmmakers give us fantasy based on reality. The master created his films from someplace deep and humane, while Lexton, whose view may be prettier, offers up what might best be called Fellini-light.

From Spotted Cow Entertainment and running 103 minutes, the movie -- after hitting VOD and digital outlets last month -- reaches DVD this coming Tuesday, January 23.

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