54th Chicago Int’l Film Fest #7: “Boys Cry” (Italy)

“Boys Cry” (Italy)
Directed Damiano & Fabbio D’Innocenzo

MV5BY2ZjNmE1MzAtYTY4NC00ZDZkLWE4M2QtZDYzY2JjY2VmNGM0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTA1NDY3NzY@._V1_Without a doubt, my impression of this film suffered from my having seen “Family First” less than 24 hours prior. They both tackle the same subject matter (small-time crime/honor among thieves), they both have very similar looks, and they both rely almost exclusively on their male leads to make the stakes matter. But while I remembered everything about “Family First” (even if for the wrong reasons), I could remember almost nothing about “Boy’s Cry”. I knew my reaction had been positive as the lights came up, I just couldn’t recall any details. In fact, as I was walking my dog this afternoon, knowing this was the next review up, I had to, quite literally, stop and go to the trailer, hoping an image or two would remind me.

I remember. I remember liking it. A great deal. I remember loving how earnest and honest the performances were. And, alas, I remember the talk-back after the film (with one of the directors and the film’s lead actor, Matteo Olivetti) where when asked how he found the first-time actor, said director stated he was hired because of his size, shape and coloring. Yes, he said that…right in front of the actor. I remember thinking, “I hate this guy and so I hate this film”. But, a week or so later, I’ve recovered from this outrage and can illuminate, in more detail why I think it’s worth your time.

It’s a very small film about very real people with a very small script. Words are at a premium. Expertly placed close-ups are the director’s tool of choice, which assures my credo of “show me, don’t tell me” is achieved. The Brothers D’Innocenzo know their way around a script. In fact, they are credited as collaborators on the script of what I think may just win the Foreign Language Oscar this year (and another Chicago Film Fest fave), Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman”. “Boy’s Cry” has a story that moves, doesn’t dawdle in the middle, like “Family First”, and has a payoff that, while expected, is somehow still very much a surprise. But, to be clear, this is a very simple tale told simply.

The film has the same dirty realism that makes films like Robin Pront’s 2014 Flemish masterpiece, “The Ardennes,” so powerful. We have cinematographer Paolo Carnera to thank for that, with some of those accolades reserved for production designer, Paolo Bonfini. And I LOVED the Toni Bruna’s music – dirty jazz/soul featuring baritone sax as its main voice. My favorite score of the seventeen fictional feature films I screened at this year’s Fest.

But the actors, their expressions, their emotional communication, are what make this a much better than average film. Especially from protagonist (and guy who apparently “fit the suit”), Matteo Olivetti. With eyes as piercing as Cillian Murphy and a permanent fretful frown, it’s a tour de force debut performance which pretty much guarantees he’ll be working for some time. Equally powerful is Milena Mancini, who plays Olivetti’s mother. But where Maude Guerin played her matriarch with bravado, spit and vinegar in “Family First”, Mancini chooses to play it 180º in the opposite direction. Her quiet energy pulls you in and forces you to empathize with…well…everything about her existence.

“Boy’s Cry” will not set the world on fire. But it’s extremely impressive given it’s position as the D’Innocenczo Brother’s first feature and the acting debut of Mr. Olivetti. It’s a film that will linger in your memory banks…as long as you don’t see it the day after “Family First”.

(This trailer gives away more than I’d like, so be warned…)

Written on 10/24/2018

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