(Le Consequenze Dell'Amore)
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Italy. 2004.
Reviewed by Jamie Garwood and Patrick Bliss
From the opening shot, you know this is a director very comfortable with the surroundings he is creating for himself and he will not be rushed. The camera moves when it is in response to the characters following them as they move and it is especially interested in Titta Di Girolamo (Toni Servillo), a man who we first see with his back to the camera - a sight that he might be hiding something from us or not showing us all of himself.
But the more we see of Titta the more layers are peeled back surrounding his history, the plot and the philosophical aspects of the piece. Using the narrative device of Sofia (Olivia Magnani) as a means for physical attraction for Titta and a sort of closeness that has been void to him for so long, Titta opens up. We learn of his routines; he only takes heroin once a week and has done for 24 years; he money launders for the Mafia owing to a mistake of his 10 years previous while consulting for them and because of this is locked up in this hotel separated from his wife an children who will not talk to him. He tells this Sofia, had she not been there he would have remained silent.
Titta is an extremely textured, multi-layered character (“The only thing extravagant about me is my name”) who is given time to grow on us and despite the beliefs of other characters has our sympathy, because most other people would act in the same way.
Shot stylishly with a camera that tracks but does not zoom, the tracking allows us to take in the surroundings and not alienate us from the characters unlike the jolting zoom. You think he moves with the track too much following women around everywhere at the start, but eventually he loves his women and how they look, going from objective to a subjective stance. Again Sorrentino turns convention on its head in this instance.
The sound mixing is wonderful as the non-diegetic (and radio in the car) stops as Titta takes a sip of water or if a vehicle enters a tunnel. This is a film very much linked to the world and respectful of its characters inhabiting their world. The soundtrack is beautiful to listen to. Servillo is a revelation, at his age to give a performance of such restraint and control he asks on all his life experience to pull off the role of Titta, a man who seems to accept his personal fate but not how people remember him.
An observational satire of life full of ideas and issues; part Mafia thriller without the violence - a credit to the director who makes us fear something never represented - and part uplifting in its finale; Titta realises the consequences of love, which he admits he should not underestimate, means isolating yourself from those you love.
The slow unfolding of a quiet mans mysterious life....
The opening shot of TheConsequences of Love perfectly sets up this intriguing and absorbing film. A travellator slowly carries a solitary out of focus figure towards the camera, trailing a huge suitcase behind him. Like the central character in the film, we know nothing of him and our initial interpretation of him, his profession, the contents of the suitcase could be way off the mark.
The Consequences of Love is that kind of film. From the title you might expect a Bergmanesq dissection of a relationship. What we have instead is a lead character, Titta, living life in emotional exile, seemingly choosing to cut himself off from those around him. If the film can be classified in any way, I would call it a mystery, as we are engaged in working out who Titta is and what he is about. What we know from the start is he is 50'ish, cool, composed and expensively attired. He has lived for the last eight years in a plush looking Swiss hotel, always paying his room fee on time but seldom showing any interest in the staff or other guests.
His only real companions are a couple who he plays occasional card games with. The couple, it transpires, used to own the hotel but have now gambled everything away and have only the room they live in left. Their love of money, antiques and each other was their undoing and Titta seems to identify with their plight. He once had it all, but now is now living as a virtual prisoner in the hotel. His brother, a long haired surf instructor, drops in to see him occasionally, but he sees his visits as more of an intrusion than a pleasure. They talk about the person Titta considers to be his best friend, even though he hasn't seen him for 25 years. This long lost friend is now a telephone engineer, repairing the communication network that brings so many together. Meanwhile Tittas phone calls to his wife and children end quickly when they refuse to speak to him.
Midway through the film Titta makes an uncharacteristic move and begins to open up to a young barmaid from the hotel. With his judgement clouded by emotion he sets himself on a course of actions that will ultimately seal his fate for good.
The slow unfolding of Tittas fall from grace is and beautifully scripted, shot and scored. The thumping techno soundtrack does much to build up the tension as more and more secrets are revealed, the final half hour turning into a taut thriller as Titta lets his mask slip and must once again face the consequences of his actions. The ending, with a visual nod to Felini, is dramatic yet ambiguous and leaves the audience to once more question his motives.
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