Published May 01, 2003Haven't they heard of marriage counsellors in Italy? Or how about script doctors? Not in the world of young Milanese arts professionals according to Alessandro d'Alatri, who directed and collaborated on the script of If By Chance.
If By Chance scrutinises the courtship, marriage and new parenthood of Stefania (Stefania Rocca) and Tommaso (Fabio Volo). I say scrutinises because the press release is full of flimflam about how a couple's love is a target for all the expectations, good intentions and advice of everyone they interact with. Neither the spoiled, attractive young couple at the centre of this movie nor their gossipy entertainment-centric friends have the capacity for a nanosecond of objectivity or self-awareness. The evils of consumerism and careerism test the nascent love and passion of Stefania and Tommaso, and they capitulate as passively to the multiple pressures of everyday life as their mediaeval ancestors did to superstition.
Structured in flashbacks and flash-forwards around the wedding ceremony, d'Alatri makes a deliberate contrast between the almost real-time filming of the ceremony and the briskly edited encapsulation of every other aspect of the relationship. Oh I get it, there used to be time. The priest, Don Livio (played by Gennaro Nunziante as an affable iconoclast), is an apologist for old world values of constancy and responsibility, yet by his charm and dynamism he makes the traditional fresher than all the jump-cut editing and photomontage effects of the bulk of the film. Here, urban life reads like advertising, with scarcely a scene lasting more than a second or two, cluttered with footage of clunky metaphors, like figure skaters and rock climbing. Our emotions never engage, nor do Stefania and Tommaso's characters develop. They remain two-dimensional prototypes of the most obvious short-comings of the world we live in. Whatever mess they are in, it certainly looks as though they richly deserve it. (Amm/Equinoxe)