Con il suo primo lungometraggio, la regista Sabrina
Sarabi presenta in concorso al Torino Film Festival un film che soltanto all’apparenza
rientra nella categoria del classico coming
of age adolescenziale.
David (Louis Hofmann) è un giovane pianista che studia
in un prestigioso conservatorio assistito dalla fredda e rigorosa professoressa
Matussek (Ursina Lardi). Per realizzare il sogno di entrare alla famosa
Julliard School, si sfianca esercitandosi anche 8 ore al giorno. Il suo già fragile
equilibrio è scosso quando nella sua vita entra una coppia di ragazzi, Walter (Johannes
Nussbaum) e Marie (Liv Lisa Fries) con i quali stringe subito un’ambigua
amicizia. Dopo aver sottratto la ragazza all’amico, David inizia con lei una
storia d’amore che finisce subito per trascurare a causa di uno studio maniacale
che ne condiziona l’intera vita.
Article by: Silvia Gentile Translated by: Lucrezia Villa
Director Sabrina Sarabi’s first feature film, in competition at Torino Film Festival, on the surface seems to belong to the traditional coming-of-age films.
David (Louis Hofmann) is a young pianist, who studies at a prestigious music academy tutored by cold and strict Professor Matussek (Ursina Lardi). In order to achieve his dream and be accepted into The Juilliard School, he spends up to eight hours a day practicing without rest. When he meets Walter (Johannes Nussbaum) and Marie (Liv Lisa Fries), a couple with whom he soon after forms an uncommon friendship, his already fragile mental state gets affected. After stealing his friend’s girlfriend, David gets romantically involved with Marie, however, he devotes himself to piano only, and his lack of commitment to their love story causes it to come to an end abruptly.
Già protagonista del film in concorso Raf (Harry Cepka), Grace Glowicki partecipa al Torino Film Festival anche in veste di regista con il suo primo lungometraggio, Tito.
Tito (interpretato dalla stessa Grace Glowicki) è un disadattato, un emarginato che, dopo aver subito una violenza, vive isolato nella sua casa arredata con un mobilio essenziale, perseguitato da suoni terrificanti e immaginari mostri che sembrano essere in agguato ovunque lui si trovi, tormentato da un malessere fisico che gli impedisce anche di mangiare. All’improvviso appare nella sua casa un “friendly neighbour” (Ben Petrie) – come viene presentato nei titoli di testa – che parla senza sosta, lo nutre, gli fa assumere sostanze stupefacenti e sembra, per un istante, sottrarlo alla sua solitudine e paura, prima di rivelarsi come un altro dei suoi carnefici.
Not only as the protagonist in the film Raf (Harry Cepka), Grace Glowicki also participates in Torino Film Festival as a director with her first feature film, Tito.
Tito (interpreted by Grace Glowicki herself) is a misfit, an outcast who, after having suffered violence, lives isolated in his house with sparing furniture. He is haunted by scary sounds and imaginary monsters that seem to be in ambush wherever he is. Tito is also tormented by a physical illness that prevents him even from eating. Suddenly a “friendly neighbour” (Ben Petrie) – as he is presented in the opening credits – appears in his house. He talks incessantly, and Tito feeds him, makes him take drugs, and, for a while, he seems to get him out of his solitude and fear, but actually he will reveal himself as another of his executioners.
The movie is the screen adaptation of the novel High Rise, written by James Graham Ballard. Jeremy Thomas, winner of the Academy Award, had been interested for year in making a film from Ballard’s novel but he only succeeded in producing it in 2014.
After showing a preview of High Rise at Toronto International Film Festival, the film was presented at San Sebastián International Film Festival and now it arrives at TFF within Festa Mobile section, reserved to non-competing films and unreleased films in Italy, which represent the best international movie production.
The movie is rich in rather interesting visual solutions such as the different kinds of oppressive verticality related to the skyscraper itself, where the story takes place. These are well conveyed by oblique and sloping framing or by the protagonist movements surrounded by the lift’s mirror but the film is not able to completely overcome the difficulties to cinematographically render situations and atmospheres implied in Ballard’s novel, in which we find different levels.
The screen challenge was perhaps to shape that metaphor of modern society, where everyone has the same role of tormentor and victim. The represented microcosm is located in a skyscraper, which offers every kind of thing people may need.
Most of the characters never leave the building except for the new surgeon, the protagonist Robert Laing, who in the first part of the film goes out to work. But in the end, after the tumultuous events have ceased, we will see him starting his professional activity within the skyscraper.
Often, the residents are referred to by mentioning their room numbers, as it happens in the dialogue between Laing and the architect during the squash match. This is clearly a sort of obsessive depersonalization.
Let’s step back and have a look at the plot. It all starts with the new surgeon moving in a luxury flat in the skyscraper. It won’t be long till he realizes the social distribution taking place throughout the building: the poorer classes live downstairs while wealthy people stay upstairs. The architect even invites him to visit his extra luxury attic but Laing looks indifferent and he only seems to be interested in seducing women.
During a blackout things become chaotic and everyone starts to understand that the more they go upstairs, the better they feel. This “physical” rise corresponds to a “moral” transformation: the majority of them become greed and fight with one another. One of the main female characters explains to her husband her sense of suffocation and tells him that she would like to enjoy the same light that those in the upper floors have at their disposal. Documentary filmmaker Richard Wilder heads the uprising with the aim of killing the architect.
In the last scenes we hear a speech saying that capitalism will never allow political liberty.
However, the film mood is oppressed by a script, which sometimes aims to be overfilled with facts and dynamics. The characters take themselves too much seriously and there is a lack of whatever possible temporary break out and lightness, which could reduce its general claustrophobia. Almost all of the film is made of internal shooting.
There are a lot of narrative premises in the movie but their developments lead too much towards a dead end track.
For sure, High Rise is worth seeing again, in order to ponder its content.
Il blog degli studenti del Dams di Torino