(aka Happiness Costs Nothing)
co-wrote, directed, and stars in this existential drama about
an architect's midlife meltdown. Once a smug Master of the Universe with a
successful business and loving wife, child, and mistress,
Sergio's life gradually falls apart after a near-death experience. An abrasive
insistence that he's through tolerating life's hypocrisies costs him his friends and
family and a new, ill-starred love affairs completely levels him. Joey Ramone's glorious
cover of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" is a recurring theme, and
the use of the song isn't completely ironic as the architect negotiates his personal
purgatory. He also contemplates his own mortality, sometimes with the help of a long-dead
friend, which adds a touch of Wings of Desire to the drama. The film's greatest
strength is Calopresti, who charms even during the architect's most obnoxious moments.
Filming took place in Turin and Rome for
nine weeks beginning on January 28, 2002.
Deborah Young, Variety:
Mimmo Calopresti, one of Italy’s most modernist directors in terms of
subject and technique, asks, in this picture, where happiness is to be found
today. The tormented characters of his earlier work are embodied by
Calopresti himself playing a man going through a painful existential
breakdown. Given the film’s abstract theme, the director perhaps makes an
appropriate spokesman for the psychological, emotional and common-sense
answers the film proposes. This isn’t the stuff wide audiences are made of,
but the Italo-French-Swiss co-production has the conviction and force to
find smaller audiences in search of ambitious food for thought.
With his craggy, lived-in face, Calopresti is perfectly believable as a
ranting nutcase, made likeable by his no-frills honesty and the paradoxical
wisdom he dispenses.
Told through the prism of many narrating voices and a shifting time frame,
the story has layers of richness and psychological depth. At its best, it
has a spontaneous quality like the creativity of an artist quickly sketching
a portrait, grabbing whatever material comes to hand. Music plays a key role
here, with John Cale and Avion Travel songs raising the volume of Franco
Piersanti’s score. They dovetail with Arnaldo Catinari’s fluid camerawork
and Massimo Fiocchi sophisticated cutting. Alessandro Marrazzo’s tasteful
sets are a pleasure, as are the elegant glimpses of Rome and Turin.
Directed by.....Mimmo Calopresti
Written by.....Mimmo Calopresti
Cinematography by.....Arnaldo Catinari
Premiered in Italy: January 31,
France release date:
September 3, 2003