There’s a first time for everything, I guess, and I was wrong, wrong, wrong about my Venice Review of Piero Messina’s L’Attesa; it was all about the math. I never was very good at math.
What a nice young man, and so accomplished at just 34 years old. Piero Messina started filmmaking at 16 and never looked back, working as an assistant director to Paolo Sorrentino on films like La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) and This Must Be The Place when he was in his twenties. Can you say “prodigy”?
His directorial debut, L’Attesa (The Wait) premiered at this year’s Venice Film Festival I left the festival’s Sala Grande dazzled by the beauty of the film but with an axe to grind with Messina: the film’s premise was based on the idea that a young woman was unaware that her boyfriend had died, and how could be possible?
Wouldn’t she have found out that he was dead from her friends on Facebook?
“The story was set in 2006”, Messina reminded me. And though there technically was a Facebook, very few people were on it, mostly students from select colleges and university. I’d forgotten how much technology has changed in the past 10 years and, sorry Piero! This sad, dark story of a mother (Juliette Binoche) who wants to hold to her son for just a little bit longer is much more realistic than I had believed.
So when Piero Messina was deciding who he wanted to play the tortured, grieving Sicilian mother, there was no choice; he wanted Binoche. It wasn’t until she agreed to be in the film that Piero said to himself, “F*ck! She’s French! She’s a problem!”
But not really.
“She’s the best actress in the world to do this kind of work”, says Messina. “I wanted a great actress; her nationality didn’t matter.”
As it turns out, Juliette Binoche turned out to be a great choice for yet another reason, and that’s making L’Attesa the kind of film that can stretch beyond Italian borders. Messina understands that, as a young filmmaker, this is his goal. “I don’t think about just the Italian audience”, he told me. “If you want to do this kind of movie you have to have an audience outside of Italy.”
In fact, the seeds of his new film are being sown, and this one will be an English language movie. “The language of the film doesn’t matter”, he says.”I can direct in English, French, or Italian.”
Personally, I can’t wait to see what this guy does next and I don’t care what language it’s in.
L’Attesa will premier in North America in Santa Monica as part of the Cinema Italian Style LA on Saturday, 11/14, at 4:30 PM at the Aero Theatre. The film will be shown in Italian with English subtitles, and there will be an introduction by Piero Messina.