Last night I saw this great Italian movie Reality as part of the Italian Contemporary Film Festival in Toronto. I'd been wanting to see it for a long time, because it's directed by Matteo Garrone, who also directed the movie Gamorrah, which is an incredible film adaptation of the book about the Camorra mafia-like organization in Naples.

Like its predecessor, Reality is visually astonishing. But in its story I thought the movie sold itself a little short.

It tells the story of a guy who gets obsessed with the possibility of getting on to reality TV -- in this case the Italian version of Big Brother. In his obsession, he starts to imagine that all his actions are being viewed and evaluated. This turns him into a kind of madman: he quits his job; he gives away his family's furniture; he drives away his patient and loving wife.

So far so good. But I'd say the problem the movie is raising goes way beyond reality TV. The hope of fame has been with us forever, and that's essentially what Luciano, the main character, is dealing with. But the sense of being watched, of being viewed and evaluated, even in one's most intimate moments - well, that is something special in 2013. The packaging of experiences for social networking, the pictures-or-it-didn't-happen, the new surveillance state -- if the screenplay had been about these, it would have been better and more interesting.

All of this said, yes I recommend you see the movie if you can. Its beauty is surpassing, and its star -- who happens to be a prisoner in the middle of a 20-year term for a mafia-connected murder -- is fantastic. #reality #realityfilm #garrone #icff
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