Review by John P. Harvey.
In this dramatic comedy, film director Giovanni (played by Nanni Moretti, who also co-wrote, produced, and directed the movie) has reached the pinnacle of his directorial career. His present project, about how prominent members of the Italian Communist Party reacted to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary in 1956, is dear to his heart.
But Giovanni is having trouble bringing his vision to life. His film is beset by various challenges, from the unavailability of appropriate circus animals to having his leading lady, Vera (Barbora Bobulova), going off script to bring to life her character, that of the leading man, Ennio (Silvio Orland), and their relationship — none of which Giovanni sees any validity in.
As well, his usual producer, who is also his wife, Paola (Margherita Buy), is unavailable, busy on a project for another director whose entire approach to film-making Giovanni disrespects, and with which he interferes on set; his wife reveals that she isn’t happy and that he’s the cause of her discontent; his daughter, Emma (Valentina Romani), confirms that he is difficult to live with as he doesn’t listen to or respect the feelings or thoughts of others; and his old friend and executive producer, Pierre (Mathieu Amalric), secretly having troubles of his own, has, in order to save the film, horrified Giovanni by arranging for him to meet with Netflix producers.
But all of Giovanni’s difficulties reflect his own inability to recognise and value others, both in his personal life and creatively, and his blindness to everything that doesn’t meet his creative wants, including the changed world of cinematography, financing, and marketing. Wrapped up in his self-belief and prior successes, he fails to see how his world is disintegrating.
All in all, the positive message Giovanni hopes to communicate through his film, a message of the transience of life’s opportunities, is one that he is coming to realise he himself needs to heed as life wrests from him the control he has maintained.
A Brighter Tomorrow hovers between disappointment and hope, between regret and inspiration, using one man’s journey to bring us a universal tale of recognising and embracing life in its entirety. Though this essential point easily disappears against the background of Giovanni’s tragicomic destructiveness, the film uses the flaws in Giovanni’s character to underscore the richness that others bring into our lives when we allow them to.
Screening at Palace cinemas.