Antonello Grimaldi :: Italy :: 2008 :: 1h55
Pietro’s life takes a cruel turn when his wife Lara dies in an accident in their holiday home. Pietro returns to Rome with his 10 year old daughter Claudia, lost in the void of Lara’s absence. When he brings his daughter to school, he decides to wait outside till she comes back out again. Sitting on the bench under the trees mourning, his work, his family, his emotions, all pass him by.
The movie is not only very original in its set-up, following Pietro as he passes his time in front of his daughter’s school, it is also beautifully made. Filled with subtle details: most of Pietro’s life shows up on that little square. He takes on new priorities in his life (like a little game he plays with a passing child), meets new people and sets himself back into the saddle. Pietro’s development from his confused and shocked state of his wife’s death to coming to terms with being a widower with daughter comes through a re-think of his entire life up to that point. Not in the sense that his life needs remodelling, but rather to be able to look at it up close.
Professionally, Pietro is surrounded by the management of the a big Italian cinema channel. The company is in the middle of a discussion of whether or not to merge with an American group. This discussion rages on passionately around him, but he does not really defend or lobby for his opinion on the matter. Working life just continues, with his secretary or his colleagues passing by on the little square to sort things out which can not do without his input, or just to get something off their backs. There are several remarkable ideas at play here. Firstly, the idea that cinema as just another product to be sold is far removed from a vision of cinema as a one of the pillars of Italian culture. Losing control of their own cinema barely seems to touch the executives because they deplore the current situation. Of course this becomes bitter-sweet, when you realise you are watching an excellent Italian movie and not a popcorn supplement. Secondly, Pietro is an important man and his absence from the office does not seem to have much effect on his career or the functioning of the organisation. Everybody can be missed for a while, the organisation just solves most issues organically to fill up the void.
Caos Calmo shows a quiet stream flowing, with Pietro standing at the side watching. As he stares into the stream, focusses his eyes, slowly but surely he can see the undercurrents. The movie is not a particularly joyful one, but it is filmed realistically and most importantly, it is very funny. The humour removes the weight of the sadness, making the exercise a pleasure to watch. Highly recommended.