Il cinema non serve a niente, però ti distrae dalla realtà. La realtà è scadente. – The Hand of God (2021), Paolo Sorrentino
It’s 1984. Two brothers — Fabietto and Marchino — are wandering, almost aimlessly, through Naples’ serpentine roads. In just moments, Marchino will pronounce a sentence that, while initially incomprehensible to young Fabietto, will return to him years later with a newfound force, a force that carries the taste of trauma, of loss and, at the same time, of epiphany: “cinema is useless, but it can distract you from reality… reality is lousy.”
When I heard those precise words from the theater’s audio system, I was watching the 8:30 a.m. screening of Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Hand of God” at the Venice Film Festival — in and of itself a dream that had, due to a series of yet unexplainable coincidences, somehow materialized — and I felt as though I had been stripped naked. Marchino was talking to Fabietto, of course, but he was also talking to me. And, most likely, to everyone else in the theater. Marchino was exposing me. Marchino was exposing the sense of perpetual disorientation that has accompanied me for as long as I can remember; the desire to seek order and meaning and definition to the unclean margins of life, and, for many of us, the source of our soothing from, as Sorrentino himself would say, “the unease of existing in the world” — that is, cinema.
Which brings me here. I’m Alice. Almost nine years ago, I moved to Boston from my native Rome. I’ve lived between the two cities ever since (if we choose to ignore the two years my family and I spent in Las Vegas … but that’s a whole other story) with all the psychological effects and identity
crises that an adolescence divided into two (or three) could bring and that, surely, almost all Wellesley students feel or have come to feel themselves. I guess you could call this a film column, a column about film, a column about international film or a column written by a confused Biochemistry major and English minor that is currently studying abroad in England with a career deviating obsession with film, or, ultimately, anything you’d like. Whatever you may choose, you’ll find it in every edition of The Wellesley News and it’ll cover all ages of international cinema, from classics to the very latest projects.
For now, I thought I’d call the column “Lousy Realities,” a title which, I believe, requires no further explanation. To return to Sorrentino, non vi disunite. “Don’t come undone.”