To life, the review: Riccardo Scamarcio and Lou De Laâge in an existential film

To life: Riccardo Scamarcio in a scene from the film

I feel like cedar that becomes impure when grafted“. These are the words of Esther, a girl who is part of an Orthodox Jewish family, who arrived in a town in southern Italy (we are in Puglia), where, on an estate, cedars are still grown, fruits considered sacred. so that they are pure, without any grafting review of To lifethe new movie by Stephane Freiss with Riccardo Scamarcio and Lou De Laâge, out in cinemas on June 16, distributed by Vision, starts here. To life tells about the meeting between two people who are looking for their way and to break out of the patterns in which they have been locked up. To life it is an existential, intimate film, a story of repressed impulses and lives, which the direction and two excellent actors, perfectly in part, make us follow, keeping us in suspense with a constant tension. It is a reflection on religion and orthodoxy, but told in a more nuanced way than products like Unorthodox.

The cedars, the religion, the family

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To life: Riccardo Scamarcio and Sasson Gabai in a scene from the film

Every summer the Zelniks, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family from Aix-Le-Bains, spend a short period in Southern Italy, to pick cedars, fruits that, according to an ancient legend, God had scattered in this region. Hosting the large family on his estate is Elio De Angelis (Riccardo Scamarcio), a gallery owner who began to take care of his company after the sudden death of his father, and who was left by his wife for this very reason. Elio meets Esther Zelnik (Lou de Laâge), twenty years old now tired of the constraints imposed by her religion. Esther is trying to abandon the Orthodox doctrine. Being close to Elio, talking to him, maybe she will be able to find her way.

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Riccardo Scamarcio and Lou De Laâge, perfect protagonists

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To life: Lou de Laâge, Riccardo Scamarcio in a scene from the film

Alla vita is a film that lives primarily of its protagonists. Riccardo Scamarcio he crosses the film with his undoubted stage presence, with an awareness of his talent that he has found for years now. Now free of what was his star image, he is not afraid to appear unkempt, heavy in the face, tried, as required by his character, who thus appears perfectly credible. His acting, played on halftones, on subtraction, is not taken for granted for an actor of his charisma, and here it appears centered. Lou De Laâge (which we had seen ne The wait by Piero Messina) is an intriguing, angular beauty. enigmatic. Her work on the character is all in the contrast between the demeanor she must keep and the fire that burns inside her, which shines through her liquid, clear, very mobile eyes and a nervous movement of her hands. The dress that, for reasons of religion, he must keep, a long black skirt and a high-necked white shirt, makes that face, those eyes, stand out even more. For a moment, a red dress is enough, bare feet, in a wild dance, to try to understand what freedom is.

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To life: Lou de Laâge, Astrid Meloni in a scene from the film

Protagonist and co-protagonist

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To life: a scene from the film

It is she, Lou De Laâge’s Esther, who is the true protagonist of the story. We live her outbursts from her through messages on a forum for those in her situation, we hear her praying directly to God, in a very touching way, when she invokes her to let her go, to understand that her path is hers. away from him. And it is very touching the moment when when she tells – it is the fragment of her confession on the forum – of having entered a cinema, attracted by the poster, without being able to resist. and that she felt guilty, that she felt that the actress on the screen also noticed. She confesses, in that chat, that she lied, and never stopped. In this game of mirrors, Elio’s character, Riccardo Scamarcio, is almost a co-star of the story. It has its story, sure, but it’s often a mirror of what happens to Esther (look at that scene where the two talk to each other while a mirror sends back the image of him, albeit blurred, and the two are in the same frame instead of in a counter-field), is a character who puts himself at the service of his story. He is there to listen to her and to bring out his true personality of her. But she too will be able to find Elio’s. There is a constant, continuous tension, spiritual before being sexual, which is felt between the two throughout the film, which is expressed in an unexpected way, and which results in small gestures, like those hands touching in the beautiful sub-final.

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A story of repressed drives and repressed lives

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To Life: Lou de Laâge in a scene from the film

To life it is a film that does not immediately discover its cards, that takes its time to reveal them, to understand which path to take. And that’s part of the charm of him. It is a story that mixes important themes, such as a reflection on religion and orthodoxy, with moments of contact and communion with nature. It is a world away from everything, out of space and time, where relationships, contrasts, doubts are stronger. Alla vita is an existential, intimate film, a story of repressed impulses and repressed lives. It is a film that does not have the classic happy ending, but rather a quiet ending, a cathartic moment, which, more than a point of arrival, is a starting point. Where he can go he leaves it to the viewer to imagine. Leaving room for our imagination is something that cinema does less and less, and when it happens it is always a pleasure.

Conclusions

In the review of Alla vita we told you about an existential, intimate film, a story of repressed impulses and repressed lives, which the director and two excellent actors, perfectly in part, follow us by keeping us in suspense with constant tension. It is a reflection on religion and orthodoxy, but told in a more nuanced way than products like Unorthodox.

Because we like it

  • The two protagonists, in part and credible, drag us into the story.
  • The direction, which creates a suspended story with a subtle constant tension.
  • The theme addressed, religion and orthodoxy, always delicate and interesting.

What’s wrong

  • It may not appeal to those who want a defined film, with a precise ending.

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