Tetro (2009)

“Tetro” (2009)



staged soul

It’s so nice that this film happened. It’s great to have been able to watch it, on the big screen,as the film asks for

Coppola is respectable, to say the least. I’ll want to see whatever he makes, if i sense that he put some of his soul in the project. As it is common knowledge, until 2 years ago, Dracula had been the last film Francis had taken seriously. The 90′ were an accumulation of useless and eventually profitable pieces of trash which allowed him to sponsor the rising Sofia, mainly, and another project of Roman. 2 years ago he made a film which i haven’t seen, as i’m keeping to a more special occasion; i sense there something in it which requires previous preparation. Now he gives us this Tetro, and i’m pleased he did.

He envisions the story, he writes the script. It features two writers, and it is the writing of the older, hampered by the interpretation of the younger of that writing that will give us the dramatic arc. It’s all about drama, it’s all about staging. The story is solved in 2 final staged performances, a play, and a concert at a funeral. He actually blew the ending. For what i guess, he had 2 ideas to unfold the story he had built beautifully until than, and didn’t have the cold mind to elect one, instead he made both endings. To my view (minor spoiler), he should have kept the festival alone, and somehow merge the funeral (or the meaning of it) into that festival. Anyhow, this is a remarkable moment. He picks on his Godfather3 operatic finale and remakes it, in a not epic, delusioned way. It was great, despite it’s flaws. (major spoiler) It’s a moment where the lives of the two brothers is being staged, as written collaboratively by the two brothers, and the true ending is being revealed by the older brother, and the major twist breaks us apart. It’s a great card he played on us, and despite some naiveness in the dialogs and an apparent arrogance in Gallo’s performance, this is a powerful dramatic piece of cinema, solved through the very script, and that’s something rare, an (apparently) invented story which, by itself, makes the film matter. The reason why it works is because he applies several levels of performance: the play the brothers wrote which is being staged, the dialog between those brothers as that play is being staged (that dialog is ostensibly staged as well, through the set and lights) and the cameras whose images fill the screens, which frame both the staged play and the dialog. Carmen Maura’s character is pivotal here, as she conducts the larger play, and indeed calls for its ending. Exquisite. From here on, the rest of the film is quite dispensable, except for the very last scene.

We can sense the autobiographical references, and quite part from the not so interesting exercise of understanding which is true and which placed for dramatic purpose is to know that Francis was actually putting himself in front of us, layering his own mind in the structure of the film and thus building and strong world, though “encoded” where we can sit in and to which we can easily trust our emotions. In a way, we can see Coppola in Tetro in how both are creators to whom being brilliant might mean they are lost. It’s a deep matter of (un)balancing art and the artist’s soul, and as a consequence, balancing both with the audience that cares about them. Probably Apocalipse had something to do with this.

Apart from that, this is the best digital photography (?) i’ve seen so far. Through the b&w, through the scope, through the framing, Coppola and Malaimare do something that hadn’t been done probably (and properly) since Allen’s Manhattan. What they do is, they enlarge the visual scope, they enlarge landscapes, they detail the interiors as much as they can, and they use all that to achieve the inverse and (because of that) powerful effect of intimacy. Manhattan was probably more powerful (i’ve never seen it on the big big screen) even due to its 70mm format. But this one hits that sweet spot, in which cinematography matters and merges to what is told. That’s why we have contrasts, crowded streets against small apartments, hospital rooms against the huge landscapes of Patagonia. This is about making you understand coziness in front on infinite landscapes. It’s a beautiful idea, and we can put this together with only a few others, as films that manage this properly. Also, the lighting is ostensibly artificial in all crucial moments, as we are never allowed to forget that the film is a play with plays inside.

I’m really happy that we have this new filmmaker called Coppola, 30 years after. This film probably matters more than anything he has made since Apocalipse Now. He doesn’t bet his soul and guts here, but he certainly depicts it well enough. Prety well. I’m happy, as if it mattered.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb


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