Consequences of Love, The

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Italy| 2004. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 100 min.

An ice-cool existential drama neatly poised on the borderline of thriller territory, Paolo Sorrentino’s elegant second feature marks the Neapolitan writer-director as someone who knows just how to impose an individual stamp on idiosyncratic material. A hyper-stylised, often slyly witty portrait of a loner in crisis, the film is also distinguished by a dazzling lead performance from Toni Servillo.
Most of the action is set in a discreetly elegant hotel in a Swiss lakeside town, where a middle-aged Italian, Titta Di Girolamo (Servillo), is a permanent resident. As he tells us in his voiceover, Di Girolama is a man without imagination; he also seems to be a man without identity and certainly has very little to do, spending most of his time smoking his cigarettes with impeccable poise and quizzically watching the hotel’s denizens—including beautiful barmaid Sofia (Magnani), who appears to reciprocate his unspoken curiosity.
Di Girolamo, unsurprisingly, has several dark secrets— not least, his punctilious habit of injecting heroin at the same time every week. He also regularly delivers suitcases containing millions of dollars to a local bank, and insists on the money being counted by hand (which makes for some wonderfully oddball sound design). Di Girolamo’s detachment from the world is absolute, until the moment he begins to communicate with Sofia—at which point his world turns upside down. Stylistically, and in subject matter, The Consequences of Love occupies a bizarre position somewhere between Pirandello and the French polar (police thriller) tradition. On the level of film language, the film is constantly inventive, with Luca Bigazzi’s sharply-defined wide-screen photography mapping out the often gaping empty spaces of Di Girolamo’s world in smooth, often sinister gliding moves. Sorrentino has certainly put himself on the map.

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