Friends by chance

Friends by chance

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A young man, who spends his days doing nothing with his friends, starts to take care of an old poet who has Alzheimer.

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Alessandro, 22 years old, doesn’t study, doesn’t work and spends his days laying around with three of his friends that are just as lazy as him. He, who doesn’t have any aspirations in life, has a secret relationship with the mother of one of his friends. His father, who is tired of his son’s apathetic but also impulsive personality (he got in trouble with the police), forces him to take a job: keep company to an old man, who shows the first signs of Alzheimer though is still self-sufficient.

This way he meets the poet Giorgio Ghelarducci, who seems to like his company but later on confuses him with his late brother or forgets his name. In a room of his beautiful house there are not only various trophies but also carvings of verses that hint at secrets and episodes from the past. At one point the poet’s confused memories recover, in fact, two parts of his life: a treasure hidden in the mountains during the war, and the friendship with three American soldiers; and the love of his youth. These memories are the reason why he decides to start traveling with Alessandro and his friends.

Tutto quello che vuoi (Friends by chance), third movie of Francesco Bruni, a skilled and brilliant screenwriter who became a film director with his movie Easy (and later with the underrated Noi 4), offers a classic trope in the cinema industry: the comparison between an old man and a young one and the mechanism of a couple composed of an ill person and a person that takes care of him, which follows the example of The Untouchables.

The story is triggered by an autobiographical event: the illness of Bruni’s late father (to whom the movie is dedicated, with his “three American friends”), that in the first part of the film is showed in a funny way and through episodes of his life that were never shown before; and the free inspiration from the novel Poco più di niente by Cosimo Calamini. the relationship between the young and the elderly, that is often transmitted through dramatic or melancholic tones of the movies in which there is a transition of experiences, here is shown through tones of a funny and light comedy that has multiple comical situations (the match on the Playstation between Juventus and Grade Torino, for example) and brilliant jokes; though without disdaining the most touching moments, with considerations of poetry and beauty as a form of approach with life.

While hanging out with Giorgio, characterised by his out-of-date politeness, Alessandro will grow fond of the old man. Even though it’s not always possible to tell who he recognises and who he doesn’t, and even though he sometimes seems to return to his forgotten past, he becomes an adult figure and an example to follow in the life of Alessandro. And when a long forgotten war story resurfaces from his memories, the young man will try to indulge him.

This simple but beautiful story, paired with the unique care for details such as the music by Carlo Virzì and the choice of the secondary characters, will make you feel a vast range of emotions. And above all there’s the main pair of the whole story: Andrea Carpenzano, who seems to be Bruni’s biggest discovery after Filippo Scicchitano (who performed in Scialla!), and Giuliano Montaldo, who plays his character with elegance and class. The director of Sacco e Vanzetti and of Marco Polo tv returns here (after his debut in the 50’s in Carlo Lizzani’s Achtung! Banditi) with an Oscar-worthy performance: the sought after sentences and the elegant sounding words of the poet are here interpreted by Montaldo in an ideal way, that we won’t be able to easily forget.

Other noteworthy actors are Donatella Finocchiaro, who played the part of the woman that is in a relationship with one of his son’s friends; Arturo Bruni (son of the director), who payed the part of the friend/rival; the other friend Vittorio Emanuele Propizio; the talkative neighbour played by Raffaella Lebbroni, an actress that’s always present in Bruni’s movies, who’s also his wife.

It might seem like at the finale of the movie all the occurrences are excessive and rushed – like, in someway, the life of Alessandro and his friends – the emotional end of the movie is written with ability, though not with craftiness.

We can feel that the story of the movie was something that the author went through himself: this is another reason why it is impossible to not feel somewhat emotional when the film ends, with the explanation in the last scene of the name of the movie and with a new feeling of awareness in a teenager who, thanks to this friendship, managed to become a man. Who managed to change.

Antonio Autieri (Translation: Benedetta Volpe)

About the author

Scrivo di cinema dal 1992. E dal 1994 dirigo giornali, giornalini, ora testate on line...