Saturday, January 2, 2021

A sneaky, don't-miss movie from Italy to begin the New Year: Sydney Sibilia's ROSE ISLAND

TrustMovies can't imagine those folk even vaguely interested in the theme of individual freedom vs the power of the state not immediately grabbing the opportunity to immerse themselves in the very interesting new Italian film, ROSE ISLAND

As co-written (with Francesca Maniere) and directed by Sydney Sibilia (shown below), the movie begins slowly and features a leading character  you will probably not much care for initially. Bear with him, and his film, please. 

This really lovely and slowly ingratiating work builds so strongly and so well that I suspect that you will, just as do its death-threatened cast of characters, by the finale be holding on for dear life.

That leading character, played by Elio Germano, an actor who seems to have cornered the Italian market on troubled, problemed, bizarre people (from My Brother Is an Only Child and The Past Is a Foreign Land onwards to Magnificent Prescence, Suburra, Tenderness and The Man Without Gravity), is a self-involved scientist/inventor who consistently places his own needs and desires above that of everyone from the State to his would-be girlfriend. He may be difficult to root for, but as his latest project surprisingly takes off -- building his own island far enough from the coast of Italy so that he can legally declare it a "nation" -- siding with this guy and hoping for the best becomes more and more difficult NOT to do.

As an actor Signore Germano (above, left, and below, center) rarely begs for sympathy; consequently, once he gets it, you feel it's well-earned. Here, as Rose Island (the character's family name) begins to prosper-and-then-some, adding a most interesting array of staff in the process (shown below), the international publicity the "island" gets (the movie is set back in the 1960s when these events actually took place) attracts the negative attention of everyone from the local police and the Italian government to, yes, The Vatican.

Filmmaker Sibilia plays all this for maximum suspense, humor and emotion; slowly and very surely, he achieves his every end. The fine supporting cast, many of them new to my eyes. proves all you could ask, and how the power of the state (thank god this is 1960s Italy rather than today's Russia, Brazil or The Philippines) seduces and induces until it finally brings this amazing, based-on-life tale to its close. 

In the process characters grow and change, at least a bit, and our own ideas of freedom and what this means and is worth may change a tad, too. Stick around for the end credits to see some photos of the real-life people involved.

Streaming now on Netflix, Rose Island -- in Italian with English subtitles and running just under two full hours -- is very close to a must-see movie. (One of the funniest moments in the film has to do with the particular movie being viewed by this Italian audience, above, and its response to that "classic" film.)

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