The Caiman (2006)

NANNI MORETTI

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

Original Title: Il caimano

/, 2006. , , , , , , . Story by Nanni Moretti, , Screenplay by Nanni Moretti, , . Cinematography by . Produced by , Nanni Moretti. Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

is terrific as a producer of schlock genre films who hasn’t had a hit in years and is in dire need of one both personally and financially. His wife () once starred in his B-quality action movies but has given up acting, ready to separate from Orlando but neither of them are willing to tell their two young sons.

His studio is cash-strapped and threatened with foreclosure but a proposed project on Christopher Columbus appears to be the solution for this; before he can sit down with RAI for a funding conversation about it, however, he is handed a script by an aspiring first-time feature filmmaker () that he has a good instinct about, and decides to pursue that instead. Orlando doesn’t realize right away that the screenplay, about a shady entrepreneur who rises in power to the seat of the country’s prime minister, is a thinly veiled expose of Silvio Berlusconi, and laments having committed himself to a lefty political film, the kind which he has no experience with and doesn’t believe he can make into a success.

Berlusconi, even at his most controversial, is still very popular and nothing legal thrown at him is able to stick, but production goes ahead anyway despite the fact that the challenges keep mounting: funding is iffy thanks to unreliable actors, Trinca’s confidence begins to crumble once shooting gets underway and Buy has begun seeing someone and her husband’s hopes of saving their marriage are quickly dissipating.

Throwing politics, art and romance into a big jumble is a lot more than director Nanni Moretti, who makes a brief appearance as an actor, can be expected to keep straight, but for the most part he manages to maintain a balance between all three thanks to his not being in the least bit subtle about any of them. Moretti’s frustration over the boldfaced corruption in his country’s highest seat of power is not something he treats with any hesitation, combining it with questions about the relevance of art (which may have been answered by Berlusconi’s losing not long after the film’s successful domestic release) and the process of constant artistic renewal that creative people are frequently navigating.

The problem is that Moretti doesn’t quite reveal anything interesting, the film is unapologetic about its themes but also gives them a shallow treatment that will pacify the minds of those who already agree and go nowhere near challenging those who don’t. The film’s most interesting quality this many years after its production is the fact that its fictional conclusion, in which Moretti approximates the results of what would soon be one of many of Berlusconi’s continuing legal trials, ended up more or less coming true, but as an entry in the director’s filmography it doesn’t show him off at his funniest or most perceptive.

Features appearances by a number of filmmakers in small roles, including , Daniele Luchetti, and .

European Film Award Nomination: Best European Actor (Silvio Orlando)

Cannes Film Festival: In Competition

Toronto International Film Festival: 2006

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