2006, Movies

Il caimano (2006, Nanni Moretti)

This is an amusing and clever satire about a hacky low-budget producer attempting to make a film that he initially doesn’t realize is about Silvio Berlusconi. But, for me, the film is somewhat weakened by its farcical nature and particularly the ridiculous behaviour of its central character, who rubs me the wrong way like so many leading men in Italian movies.

I gotta say that I really wasn’t liking this to start. The opening scenes are so over-the-top in terms of the misfortune that befalls the movie producer that I was getting ready to write my review about how comedy doesn’t necessarily transcend language like drama does. (It should be noted that I have a particularly hard time with Italian films in general – and comedy possibly more than any other genre – as I have trouble sympathizing with characters who yell all the time time.)

But I had no idea what this was about, and the film bravely takes its time getting to the real focus. (Of course, if you’re Italian, you know by the title, who it’s about. You would also know about the movie from all its press.  But the point is that it takes its sweet time getting to the plot, which is mostly a virtue in any film.) By that time the ridiculousness of the producer feels like a good way in to something much more intelligent, even if he rubbed me the wrong way.

Watching this in 2018, it’s particularly illustrative of how a film could better tackle Donald Trump’s absurdities than a news report. Though the “film about making a film” trope is often clumsy and sometimes too meta for its own good, in this case it’s a neat and effective way for addressing how awful Berlusconi is without having to directly address it all that often. (Obviously it comes up, but it’s assumed that the woman who wrote the script thinks the way she does because of her politics, and some of the others are just trying to make money. I think that’s a good in for people who disagree with the premise that Berlusconi is awful.)

But, I must say that the overly Italian farcical elements are just a few too many for me to truly enjoy this. I understand why people who like this kind of comedy would celebrate this movie, and I want to, but the perils of the producer, which dominate so much of the film, are just too ridiculous – and too Italian – for my enjoyment.


PS Somebody really needs to turn this into Il Trumpo.

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