Luckily since I can’t make it to New York for the weekend for the New Italian Cinema Event, a movie they are showing and I’ve been dying to see, Il Gioiellino, The Jewel arrived at my door from ibs.it. It will be screened tonight at the Courthouse Theater at 32 2nd Ave. at both 7:00 and 9:30, and it was screened last night in my living room, by me.
Directed by Andrea Molaioli, who did the 2007 La Ragazza Del Lago (The Girl by the Lake) and starring Toni Servillo, (who also starred in The Girl by the Lake), it’s based on the real life Parmalat scandal in Italy in the early part of this century and there’s no doubt that it’s a well told story. It’s got a smart script and acting that Hollywood would kill for, but this is one of those rare times that if I would have liked to have seen an Italian movie Hollywooded up a bit – I mean, it could have been a little more exciting. I’m not looking for car chases or explosions, but this really is a thrilling story that would have made a great thriller with just a few cheesy Hollywood touches; while interesting, it was not as gripping as it might have been.
The actual scandal is a pretty big story and could have borne the weight of a big blockbuster movie instead of the small artsy one that they made – it’s got greed, money laundering, document shredding, executive suicide, and books cooked with billions of dollars of forgery, all in Il Gioiellino, but with a more “reporting” than “action-packed” way of telling the story.
And maybe it could have used a real villain – not out of any kind of moral obligation, but just to make the story a little more exciting. Molaioli chose to make the men who were at the top of the company seem corrupt and flawed and yet decent, and so they may have been in real life, but a real villain would have made a better story. After all, despite any redeeming qualities that these men might have had, they’re in the Bernie Madoff club – they stole innocent people’s money and lived lavish lifestyles at others’ expense.
I’m not really complaining, I enjoyed the movie very much. It’s a very timely story and one that Americans will find fascinating, and it’s got Toni Servillo, a super gifted actor that I can’t get enough of. If you are in New York tonight, don’t miss it.