DAYS AND CLOUDS (GIORNI E NUVOLE) (2007)
Starring Margherita Buy, Antonio Albanese, Giuseppe Battiston, Alba Rohrwacher, Carla Signoris, Fabio Troiano, Paolo Sassanelli, Arnaldo Ninchi, Teco Celio, Antonio Francini, Carlo Scola, Alberto Giusta and Orietta Notari.
Screenplay by Doriana Leondeff.
Directed by Silvio Soldini.
Distributed by Film Movement. 119 minutes. Not Rated.
With global economies in the midst of some of the worst recessions in decades, particularly for the middle class, the Italian drama Days and Clouds could not be more topical.
Michele (Antonio Albanese) and Elsa (Margherita Buy) appear to be the perfect couple. He is co-owner of a local company. She is finishing her education in the fine arts, and is working in an old church to help restore a historic roof painting which had been covered up in the generations since it was made.
The couple has a lovely home in Genoa, a sweet 20-year-old daughter (Alba Rohrwacher) who is opening her own restaurant with dad’s financial help, they travel often and have their own boat. Michele throws a huge bash at their home to celebrate her graduation. The next morning, when Elsa wakes up, her whole life comes crumbling down around her.
Her husband has to admit to her that he has been forced out of his own company and he hasn’t worked in months. They have to sell their house and get a smaller apartment to survive until he can find a new job. They currently have enough money to keep them going about five months – and then they will be broke.
Michele is somewhat delusional and tries to downplay the whole thing. Elsa asks him, reasonably, if they were going broke why would they have thrown a huge catered party for all of their friends, including a five piece band. He just yells defensively that it was a last fling.
In fact, Michele is just a bit of a smug snob. He looks down on their daughter because she dropped out of university to open a restaurant (he dismissively refers to her as a waitress.) He lost his part of the partnership because he refused to consider changing the business with the times. He insists on paying for everyone’s meals even though he can’t afford it – for appearances sake.
However, even when he doesn’t always deserve sympathy, there is a certain familiar tragedy to a man who is used to caring for his family suddenly realizing that he can no longer provide. His wife – who has apparently been wearing blinders through much of their relationship – pitches in and takes two menial jobs, giving up her dream position because it did not pay.
This is a common disaster and there is a certain bleak fascination in watching a long-time relationship bend and maybe break due to economic realities. Sadly, it is all too frequent an occurence.
Days and Clouds works on several levels. It is a journey of self-discovery. It’s a love story. It’s a family drama. It’s often surprisingly funny in the midst of hardship. Most of all, though, it is a sobering look at the disappearance of the middle class in modern society.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 31, 2008.