Rereading the interview I was fortunate enough to get with director Ivano De Matteo brings back a happy memory. Every interview I’ve done, every single one has been a pleasure. I have done enough now to say with some authority that Italian filmmakers are for the most part unassuming, kind, and overall delightful people, but Ivano De Matteo was just a little bit extra delightful. He’s got an infectious laugh and a likeability that makes you fall in love with in.
When I talk about the new generation of Italian filmmakers and how admire them, I am thinking of directors like Ivano De Matteo, who calls what he and his peers are doing a kind of “neo-neo realism” (I love that).
I was a big fan of Herman Koch’s best-selling book The Dinner, so I was surprised and delighted to find that De Matteo had made a movie that actually improved upon the book. In the book, a major part of the dialogue takes place over the course of one unpleasant evening, but De Matteo’s movie, I Nostri Ragazzi has a more natural plot progression and the changing settings in the movie make it less claustrophobic. De Matteo ultimately “fixes” all the problems of the book, makes it more human and less excessively theatrical.
“It would have been very difficult for me to squeeze it all into that one dinner”, said De Matteo. “And I also decided to film it a different way than in the book. I created a prologue with an element that is not in the book.”
And so I wanted to know; why did he decide to add that part?
‘Because I’m a writer!” he laughed. (Oh yeah, duh. And he’s a good one, too)
And if he (heaven forbid) ever found himself in the same situation with his own kids?
“It’s a decision that you could only make in the heat of the moment, but would be great to be like Gassman’s character”, said De Matteo, “So that everybody in the world would say, ‘he’s such a good person’.” (More laughing; he’s kidding).
Well guess what Ivano; I think everyone says that about you. You’re a good, nice, talented person and we love your movies!