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Review: La rivincita


- Leo Muscato’s debut film, available on RaiPlay in Italy from 4 June, portrays the daily reality of the country’s new poor with all the tragedy and irony that goes with it

Review: La rivincita
Michele Cipriani and Michele Venitucci in La rivincita

Supposed to be presented back in March at the Bari Bif&st - a screening which was subsequently cancelled due to Covid-19 - and now taking its first, exclusive bow on RaiPlay, La rivincita [+see also:
film profile
marks the cinematic debut of the theatre and opera director Leo Muscato who, with an uncanny sense of timing, speaks of job losses, financial precariousness and the gradual descent into poverty. At a time when newspapers are announcing the loss of 274,000 Italian jobs as a result of the health crisis, in the month of April alone, this story set in the Apulian countryside and starring two brothers who lose everything and who do everything they possibly can to survive with dignity, offers itself up as a snapshot of life which is presumably close to the reality experienced by countless other souls at present.

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“Don’t give up, never give up” is the motto of this film. If there’s one thing brothers Vincenzo (Michele Cipriani) and Sabino (Michele Venitucci) aren’t short on, it’s tenacity. The former finds himself dispossessed of the land he cultivates and which provides him with a living, in the name of making room for a new freeway, just as he and his wife Maja (Deniz Özdoğan) are expecting their first child; the latter brother runs a flower stall opposite the local cemetery, but is unable to give his young son and his wife Angela (Sara Putignano) the life they would like on account of deep debts. The two families live in close contact, opposite one another, each with their own troubles and ghosts to contend with. One day, Sabino asks Vincenzo for a loan, the next day, the roles are reversed, until the mutual aid the brothers provide can no longer keep them afloat.

Is it possible to remain a good person when you’re mired in poverty and can’t even allow yourself the luxury of having a child? The two brothers try everything they can via honest means, but the sirens of dishonesty reach them, nonetheless. Between ruthless loan sharks and sales of agrochemical poisons, there are some who will go so far as to literally sell their own blood. Desperate needs call for desperate measures, as Maja herself discovers when forced to make a desperate choice in order to have the child she so desires; a choice which will lead them all into chaos. Right up until they wreak revenge on the “bloody hell” they’re all living…

Adapted from Michele Santeramo’s book of the same name, which is based upon a collection of true stories (“about people who have a roof over the heads, but don’t have two pennies to rub together” specifies the author), the film oscillates between realism and paradox, tragedy and irony, as the characters search frantically for a solution and for unhoped-for resources which would allow them to fight back. The actors all come from a theatre background and the film itself is rooted in the theatrical, based as it is upon words and dialogue (let’s not forget that La rivincita has also been performed on stage, with Muscato at the helm). Oozing great humanity and a much-invoked (especially in times as these) sense of resilience, it’s a little film which offers up a cross-section of the new poor in a southern Italy representative of southern regions around the world.

Produced by Altre Storie and Rai Cinema with the backing of the Apulia Region and the Apulia Film Commission, La rivincita is available exclusively on Rai Play from 4 June, as part of the #ilCinemaNonSiFerma [“Cinema Doesn’t Stop”] initiative (read our news).

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(Translated from Italian)

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