Monday 3 May 2010

The Caiman (2006)

Marketed as a savage anti-Berlusconi satire, Nanni Moretti’s The Caiman (2006) turns out to be a ramshackle, fairly endearing comedy about its protagonist’s personal and professional travails; the obvious pot-shots that it takes at the Italian PM may be the weakest thing about it. The film follows the fortunes of Bruno (Silvio Orlando), a producer of schlock thrillers. Down on his luck following the failure of a Kill Bill-esque film called Cataracts, Bruno meets a young woman who presents him with a script entitled “The Caiman.” Distracted by his marital problems and his attempts to get a movie about Columbus off the ground, Bruno initially reads the script as just another thriller, before realising that it is actually a critique of Berlusconi. The film details his frustrated attempts to get "The Caiman" made.

While there are plenty of things that don’t add up in this scenario, Moretti’s film has engaging, amusing and sometimes touching details: the scenes between Bruno and his wife and kids are particularly memorable, and Orlando gives a lively and enjoyable performance. But The Caiman becomes tiresome when the characters stop dead to make political points. Moretti is sure-footed in much of his satirising of the Italian film industry, but then loses his way; the final sequence - which presents clips from the finished film with Moretti himself taking the role of Berlusconi - is totally fumbled. Nonetheless, this odd, haphazard movie is worth seeing for the incidental pleasures that it offers.

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