Opening 13 Feb 2020
Writing credits: Abel Ferrara
Principal actors: Cristina Chiriac, Willem Dafoe, Anna Ferrara, Stella Mastrantonio, Lorenzo Piazzoni
Tommaso (Willem Dafoe) is an American, living in Rome with his much younger Russian wife Nikki (Cristina Chiriac) and their three-year-old daughter Deedee (Anna Ferrara). Tommaso, a director of Indie movies back in the US where he was living on the edge, addicted to drugs and alcohol, is trying to clean up his act by leading this ‘new' life in Rome with his young family. The camera follows him, almost like in a documentary, to his Italian class, to the local café, supermarket, and playground, looking after his daughter, cooking, meditating, doing yoga, giving some acting classes, and attending Al-Anon meetings. At the same time, Tommaso tries to stay creative. At night, he is working on a new movie and his artistic ego gets the better of him, visiting him in painful and abysmal dreams.
This movie is the sixth co-operation between Abel Ferrara (maybe best known for King of New York (1990), and more recently Pasolini (2014), also starring Dafoe) and Willem Dafoe, who most recently was seen in The Lighthouse (2019). Cristina Chiriac, who plays Nikki, is Abel Ferrara's wife in real life, and Anna Ferrara is their real-life daughter. So it is no surprise that the movie is full of similarities between Abel Ferrara and his alter ego Willem Dafoe/Tommaso. Both are Americans, roughly the same age, living in Rome with younger wives, both have struggled with addictions in the past, both have embraced Buddhism in their search for inner peace... Willem Dafoe, who has made over 130 movies since his debut in 1979, and will forever be remembered for his portrayal of Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) or as Van Gogh, is intense in every scene, but the spectator remains strangely detached from all the protagonists and cannot really get close to their characters. (Ulrike Lemke)