FIRST LIGHT (La prima luce)
Director: Vincenzo Marra
Screening times and locations:
June 9 @ 10:00pm TIFF – Toronto
June 13 @ 7:00pm Cinema Cartier – Quebec City
June 15 @ 7:30pm Cinematheque Quebecois – Montreal
Marco (Riccardo Scamarcio) is an Italian lawyer that lives with South American girlfriend Martina (Daniela Ramirez) and their seven-year-old son Mateo. Their home in Bari is home for Marco and Mateo, but increasingly a cold prison for Martina. Her relationship with Marco is in effect, over. Marco could probably have lived out the rest of his life in this loveless relationship for the sake of the child, but Martina is done.
“I want to go home”, she tells him, over and again. Home, for her, is an unnamed South American country, the place that she’s from and her mother still lives. “I want to go home”, she says, and then finally, “I’m going home.” But Marco doesn’t hear her. He doesn’t see, or doesn’t care that she’s been unhappy for ages. He dismisses her concerns with his parenting style (she calls it “violent”, but I’m not so sure), and he seems not to notice that in all her years living in Italy she’s never really assimilated.
Had he been paying more attention maybe he could have prevented the sad outcome; Marco comes home from a business trip to an empty house. She’s finally found her passport (has he hidden it from her?) and she’s on the first plane out-of-town, with their son.
The empathy that I felt for Martina up to this point dissolved, and as Marco drops everything and follows them to her country, searching for them like they are a couple of needles in a haystack, my sympathy shifted. The pain of a father who loses his son and may never see him ago because of the selfishness of the mother is excruciating for Marco and for the viewers. It’s not all about you, Martina. But somehow she thinks it is.
Is La Prima Luce manipulative? It may feel this way, but facts are facts. Parental abductions occur, and children disappear into nowhere; when the nowhere is in a different country the situation is often hopeless. A parent is left living the rest of his child searching and longing for a child, and a child is robbed of a parent. La Prima Luce is hard to watch, but it’s very affective in dealing with the question, “What happens when nobody’s thinking about what’s best for the child?