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Cinema Made in Italy: Stolen Days

After expressing an interest in developing my viewing repertoire of Non-English speaking films, I was offered the chance to attend Ciné Lumière’s ‘Cinema Made in Italy’ event, which spanned from the 4th-9th of March. The program dedicated time to not only screen the latest in Italian cinema, but give the audience a chance to ask questions to the Italian Filmmakers. On the night I attended, Ciné Lumière debuted Guido Lombardi’s latest film: ‘Il ladro di giorn’ (‘Stolen Days’).

Stolen Days’ tells the story of young Salvo (Augusto Zazzaro) on his reunification with his father Vincenzo (Riccardo Scamarcio) as they both travel across Italy. Taking place seven years after Vincenzo was arrested, the film follows the father/son duo in a ‘road-trip’ style film; as Vincenzo attempts to rebuild the relationship he lost with his son Salvo, whilst in prison for drug trafficking.

Whilst the premise sounds interesting, the execution of the story is what lets the film down. One of the most striking answers that Lombardi gave in the proceeding Q+A was that he believes a film should not be written into a genre, and that it is the job of the critic to umbrella the film into a given category. This is a point which is reflected heavily within his film. Not only does ‘Stolen Days’ contain a road-trip storyline, but also includes many tropes from Noir and Melodrama. Overall, the film’s inability to concentrate its storyline on a particular genre left myself with emotional dissonance towards the events of the film. There are simply too many story beats for the viewer to attach themselves to. Perhaps, if Lombardi wrote the film with a genre in mind (focussing on Noir, for example) and borrowed a handful of tropes from other genres to develop the story, his film would have been easier to follow and therefore, more interesting.

Image: Courtesy of Cineuropa

Although the identity of the film is lost within the story, the film’s setting really gives it great character. Guido originally planned to shoot the film in Switzerland, but quickly discarded the idea when he was given a hefty price tag. Having a Mediterranean background myself, I feel as if the Father/Son storyline would not have been as relatable if set in Switzerland as it was in Taranto Italy (with the relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle revolving around strong family bonds.) The beautiful landscapes of Taranto emanate this sense of relaxation, with little shops, vast mountains and old villages filling the frame. It allows the audience to (try) to concentrate on the story and the characters, as they are not distracted by busy sets.

One of the shining lights of the film was the performance by Augusto Zazzaro, playing the young Salvo. As it was revealed by Lombardi in the Q+A, it was Zazzaro’s first acting role in a film - a fact that I was surprised to hear. The chemistry he built with his co-star Riccardo Scamarcio was well articulated, with the gradual acceptance of his father’s identity being portrayed through his facial expressions alone.

Overall, Lombardi’s film has the potential to explore the intricacies of strained Father/Son relationships but is too busy trying to force different generic story tropes into the film for the sake of it.

Edited by Andriani Scordellis, Film Editor

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