Dear Diary

Nanni Moretti in Dear Diary

This is an unusual Italian film which combines elements of biography with comedy and drama. It was written and directed by Nanni Moretti and he stars as well. The film is split into three distinct chapters and there are some beautifully filmed sequences. The eccentric humour of Moretti provides a few laughs and this unique production is self indulgent but still enjoyable.

The style veers between documentary and surreal comedy and we open with Moretti riding around Rome on his motorised scooter. He stops on occasion to pour out some wisdom in the form of extended monologues. The footage of Rome as we follow behind Moretti admiring the passing buildings is quite fascinating and there are extended sequences accompanied only by music, such as his visit to the beach where Pasolini was murdered, which feature really gorgeous cinematography. There are also some odd moments of hilarity as Moretti talks to strangers and meets his heroine, Jennifer Beals, from his unlikely favourite film Flashdance.

The second part of the film sees Moretti embark on a trip to the islands. Amongst comical observations on island life we are treated to some breathtaking scenery. On one suburban island the adults allow their children to run their lives. They all have only one child and Moretti is able to satirise the way such families behave. With his friend in tow he tours various islands but fails to accomplish the work he set out to do and we move on to the third and final chapter. Now Moretti is ill with some kind of skin complaint and we join him on his frequent trips to the doctors. He sees specialists of every description and tries all sorts of remedies and drugs but is left feeling worse and worse. The humorous observations continue but this portion of the film is somewhat jarring after the lighter mood of the first two.

Nanni Moretti in Dear Diary

This is a completely original work and the offbeat comedy is very effective. There are also moments of warmth and a genuine affection for the human spirit that seems to shine through. The film features people in all their splendidly weird glory being sent up but never in a cruel way. It is meandering and often veers off in unexpected directions and the destination is never clear. Despite, or perhaps because of, the strangeness it works really well and captivates from start to finish.

Moretti is famous in Italy and is apparently an outspoken supporter of left wing politics. He is sometimes described as "the Italian Woody Allen" because of his eccentricity and love of wry humour. This was my first encounter with his work and it was enjoyable enough to encourage me to seek out more. Refreshingly unique and warmly amusing Dear Diary is an interesting film.

Reviewed by Simon Hill

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