An odd, surreal look into fame and reality television; Reality gives a stark, depressing insight into Italian life.

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The film starts slowly and after a thoroughly entertaining opening scene we are thrown into the mire of lead character Luciano’s (Aniello Arena) life. We see him as a humble fishmonger. We see him depressed and poor. We see this for forty minutes and by that time we are bored.

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Then when Luciano finally decides to audition for Big Brother the film changes in tone and becomes something truly wonderful; as paranoia over whether he is actually a contestant drives him to insanity and derails his life. The second act of the film is genius, with twists and turns at every corner and a firm message about reality TV coming across, all pinned down by the fantastic Arena.

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Interestingly Arena’s performance can only be seen as more incredible when you find out his back-story and that the entire film was made whilst he served a life-sentence in prison for murder! Director Matteo Garrone saw Arena performing in a prison theatre show whilst researching his earlier film Gomorrah (2008) and was so certain he was right for this role that he was somehow able to get Arena released on parole for each day of filming.

And the director’s choice is proven right as Arena gives stunning performance, perfectly knowing how to bring a sense of wonderment to Luciano’s paranoia so that you always feel as if his dream could still come true (and hope it does).

Reality is the sort of film that I wanted to watch when I started the Film-A-Day challenge; little heard of and extremely interesting. It is a gem of a film that deserves more recognition.

 

7/10