In what is being called the “breakout performance” at the Cannes Film Festival, Aniello Arena plays a Naples fishmonger who becomes obsessed with appearing on a “Big Brother”-style TV show in Matteo Garrone’s “Reality.” Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do the red carpet thing last night – they wouldn’t let him out of prison to attend.
Arena’s serving a life sentence for murder and has been in prison for twenty years, but has been acting in the prison theater company. Garrone wanted him for Gomorrah in 2009, but prison officials wouldn’t let him out for that one. There’s a buzz that he may win best actor at Cannes.
Of the film, Reality, itself, reactions are mixed. The Italian press loves it, but the American reviewers have some complaints. They say that it is beautiful to look at and has a great soundtrack, but they are using words like “disappointing”, “empty”, and “lightweight”. One blogger at Indiewire.com gave it an A- and another gave it a C-.