Open Roads: ‘I Told You So’ A Hypnagogic Dark Comedy

Open Roads: ‘I Told You So’ A Hypnagogic Dark Comedy

I Told You So (Te l’avevo detto) is Ginevra Elkann’s second feature film, that premiered at the 2023 Toronto Film Festival and was presented at 2023 Rome Film Festival. It is currently part of the line-up of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, in New York City.

The film is set in Rome during an anomalous heat wave, where several characters are forced to confront all they have skilfully avoided for their entire lives: old rivalries, irrepressible compulsions and dysfunctional family situations. The storytelling is grounded in the hyperlink cinema genre, i.e. the multilinear narrative structures where unrelated storylines are connected by a common theme. Here, what truly unites every story is the desire to start over.

In I Told You So there are some intrepid performances by the female cast. Particularly outstanding is Valeria Golino’s ironically sweet depiction of porn star Pupa, whose  appearance resembles the looks of Cicciolina (the Hungarian-Italian erotic actress, activist and politician). The moments she is needling her lips with fillers is superlatively and deliciously kitsch. Equally outstanding is Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi. Besides flaunting a stunning physique — that she fearlessly puts at the service of the story from the very first scene — she presents an intricate character.

Her Gianna combines a tomfoolery inclination — as she dances breathlessly to Amore e capoeira with a God-fearing, yet mentally disturbed and obsessive personality. Alba Rohrwacher’s drunkard version is effective, as her Caterina is torn between addiction and maternal instincts. Also the couple of grown-up siblings — formed by Danny Huston playing Bill and Greta Scacchi as Frances — is spectacular. The former is quite an unexpected priest, the latter is a grounded woman from Connecticut who will flip out. Also Riccardo Scamarcio, as the responsible parent of a young boy, contributes effectively to the mise-en-scène of this cinematic act.

The script is penned dauntlessly by Chiara Barzini, Ilaria Bernardini and director Ginevra Elkann, who show no hesitations in making bold choices. They amusingly present a more than sacrilegious side of an ecclesiastic and manage to have some of their characters go out with a bang…literally.

The dark comedy is on fire thanks to the synergy between the cast and crew. Vladan Radovic’s cinematography is otherworldly. The vision of I Told You So is a psychedelic trip from the queasy green tones to the red shades that catapult us into a hot spell typical of a Western film. The surreal sultry cloud, that pervades the Italian capital, serves as a metaphor to collective angst. This foggy entity appears as a foreboding warning of the Inferno that each character will have to traverse.

The perception of the various tales is almost mystical, each one represents an archetype and each one holds the potential of eternal cyclic renewal. However, some characters will find their atonement, whilst others will be swallowed by oblivion. The arenaceous atmosphere, that filters the narrative’s denouement, provides gravitas and oneiric panache. Palette colours and ocher hues are enveloped by a mist of chromes, that transport viewers into a dimension that coalesces the transcendental with the grotesque.

What flickers on the screen mirrors the incandescent themes discussed by the motion picture. Film director Ginevra Elkann, with whimsical virtuosity, projects what it means when repressed anger is taken to extreme consequences. Watching I Told You So conveys a pure feeling of hypnagogia.

Final Grade: B+

Check out more of Chiara’s articles.

Photos are Courtesy of Cinecittà

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