Review: Forma del primo movimento
- The first feature from Ticino director Tommaso Donati relies on body language to reveal the truths hidden deep within each of us
Born in Lugano, where he still lives and works, but trained at the Eicar in Paris, Tommaso Donati is not afraid to stubbornly pursue his (aesthetic) objective: "to show what is not visible," proposing a first full-length film, Forma del primo movimento, which is not easy to access, at times even obscure, but certainly not lacking in poetry and radicality of intent.
Presented as a world premiere at the 57th edition of the Solothurn Film Festival, where it competes in the First Film section, Forma del primo movimento is the result of the director's meeting with the Ticino theatre company Giullari di Gulliver, made up of disabled people who, on stage, discover another way of expressing themselves and relating to the world around them that does not always welcome them with tenderness. It is precisely the invisible wall that separates the interior (the intimacy of the actors and the socio-psychiatric institution that houses them) and the exterior (the frenzy and indifference of everyday life) that the film talks about.
Forma del primo movimento is a film that consciously dispenses with words, which are often only whispered indistinctly in the background or reach us causally, to focus exclusively on gestures and their truth. It is precisely the work on the body, on movement, carried out by the Ticino company that intrigued the director to such an extent that he decided to make his first feature film on this "technique".
The film begins within the walls of the gymnasium of the Torriani Foundation in Mendrisio, where the company's theatrical rehearsals take place. The protagonists, actors in both the play in progress and the film, impose themselves from the very first images through their gestures, which the director captures and transforms into a visual language. Through their bodies, atypical, "imperfect" in the eyes of most, the actors express, protected by the walls of the foundation, their splendid uniqueness, clinging to the sensations that movement arouses, relaying their intimacy, relating to a world that often rejects them. It is precisely on this world, which lies beyond the windows of the gymnasium, beyond the walls of the institution where the actors sometimes venture, that Tommaso Donati focuses in a second time, thanks to a coming and going between intimacy and urban anonymity. Although the intention is interesting and relevant, the succession of sometimes almost abstract images (small, apparently banal moments captured in the city park or at the train station) risks making us lose sight of the film's main purpose. The effort required to cling to every little detail in order to make sense of the reality shown on the screen is at times really too great and affects the undeniable poetry of the whole.
The extremely slow pace that the director decided to give the film (and which we are no longer accustomed to digesting) is undoubtedly commendable because it reflects that experienced by his actors spared from a frenzy that now swallows up everything. A courageous stance that forces the spectator to observe a reality that we often tend to marginalise, to ignore for convenience or simple lack of curiosity. Forma del primo movimento is a radical first film, perhaps even too much so, which believes unconditionally in cinema's ability to communicate a truth that transcends words. To do without a narrative, beyond the purely visual, is a move that is both courageous and risky, and one that we hope will not alienate too many viewers from a film that is well worth discovering.
Forma del primo movimento is produced by Ticino company Noha Film.
(Translated from Italian)
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