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Sweet Dreams

Directed by Marco Bellocchio

Italy, 2016

HOME, 8 March 2017

Sweet Dreams

A boy’s mother dies early on and the untimely loss impacts his whole life.

Having recently returned from Florence, this struck me as a very Italian, very Catholic film that is built around the figure of Madonna and Child, a constant theme in Renaissance art. Mary ascending to heaven is even a holiday in some Catholic countries, such as Austria.

The film is structured like a poem. I liked in particular the way in which various incidents in Massimo’s life allude, often obliquely, to his mother’s fate: the bust of Napoleon dropped from a window; the plane crash that killed the Grande Torino; even the sight of Italian athletes performing at the Olympics. It is as though mother and child are engaged in a protracted game of hide and seek: for her it feels safe to hide, but to hide and never be found is terrifying. A staged photo in Sarajevo, with a boy playing on a tablet,is the crisis point. It leads Massimo to the edge.

Valerio Mastandrea, the actor who plays the adult Massimo, bears a striking resemblance to Michael Fassbender.

A very good film.