- Directed by Brit Peter Chelsom, the Italian adaptation of the novel by US author Stephen Amidon is a drama masquerading as a thriller without surprises
Sixty-five-year-old British director Peter Chelsom first came to the fore in 1991 thanks to the brilliant romcom Hear My Song, which was followed by a series of films experiencing varying degrees of success, and subsequently rounded off by the recent titles Hector and the Search for Happiness [+see also:
film profile], the US production The Space Between Us and the collective film Berlin, I Love You, which were all somewhat mistreated by the press, not to mention ignored by the wider public. Now, Chelsom is trying his hand at an Italian adaptation of one of US author Stephen Amidon’s books. The homonymous film Security [+see also:
film profile] is a Sky Original production, with a cast composed of broken-in actors but also graced by some very fresh faces. The Lancashire-born director, who also possesses a US passport, as well as honorary citizenship from a Tuscan village, is transposing a story about suspicion and sexual hysteria from the wealthy, tranquil suburbs of Stoneleigh, Massachusetts, to the wealthy but oh-so-intolerant Forte dei Marmi, a holiday destination in Tuscany known for the many aristocratic families from Northern Italy and the nouveaux riches who take up residence there in the summer.
“A sophisticated, picture postcard, seaside resort where everything is perfectly staged”, is how the off-screen voice of protagonist Roberto Santini, played by Marco D’Amore (the popular character Ciro from the TV series Gomorrah) describes the area in the film’s first scene. Roberto is responsible for the security of the villas, which are protected by a sophisticated video surveillance system which he keeps tabs on via his state-of-the-art computer and tablet. The low-resolution images taken from this video system are the visual focus of the film, but the director doesn’t over-exploit this CCTV aesthetic, which has previously been explored in the world of alternative film and has recently found itself absorbed within the Hollywood narrative which is increasingly fascinated by “the rhetoric of surveillance". More than reflecting on the systems of control which are currently in operation in modern societies, Chelsom uses his CCTV as a voyeuristic gaze fuelled by a deviant form of sexuality.
Presented as a thriller, Security is actually a psychological drama about the social paranoia of the middle classes who build walls around themselves, and about the distorted relationship between adults and youngsters in affluent western society. Those looking for high-octane crimes and twists and turns won’t find them in the present story, which is lacking in big surprises and which revolves around the violence which a young student from the neighbourhood, Maria (Beatrice Grannò), falls victim to one winter’s night, in the immediate vicinity of the home of one of Forte dei Marmi’s wealthiest residents, Curzio Pilati (a histrionic Fabrizio Bentivoglio). Interestingly (or cleverly), Bentivoglio is entrusted with a decisive yet ambiguous role, just like in Human Capital [+see also:
interview: Paolo Virzì
film profile], which was also based on one of Amidon’s bestselling novels. The parallels between the present film and Paolo Virzì’s movie of 2013 are obvious, and all we can say is that the Italian director did a better job of managing the satire inherent in the Italian transposition of American suburban life during the boom-and-bust years of the 1990s, as seen through Amidon’s “keen eye and tart observations” (quoted from Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post).
Written by the director alongside Tinker Lindsay, Silvio Muccino, Michele Pellegrini and Amina Grenci - based upon a story penned by Chelsom, Umberto Contarello and Sara Mosetti - the screenplay of Security exudes the same moralising intent as the book, which has also been ascribed, by some, to Human Capital, with the (excessively) numerous characters perfectly divided into goodies and baddies: namely, the protagonist, the abused girl’s father (Tommaso Ragno), the manipulative teacher (Silvio Muccino), Santini’s ambitious and cynical wife, who is also a right-wing, anti-immigration mayoral candidate (Maya Sansa), their teenage daughter Angela (Ludovica Martino) and youngster Dario (Giulio Pranno).
(Translated from Italian)
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