Life in community is that of favor and error, that of guilt and the possibility of forgiveness. Also that of love and pain. And all of this could be X-rayed in just one building. As the playwright Antonio Buero Vallejo told us in the realist Story of a ladder, social antagonism, morality and double standards, ardor, suspicion, betrayal, grief, suspicion and, finally, the stumbles and joys of life end up affecting the four corners of a home that is not only ours. Because right next to, or opposite, or above or below, other human beings also live who are affected by our decisions, our looks, our delusions, our (mis) trusts.
Three floors, Based on a novel by the Israeli Eshkol Nevo, it is Nanni Moretti’s new and humanistic film. Nevo had set his book in a building in Tel-Aviv. Moretti has been doing it in a neighborhood in Rome for a little over ten years. It does not matter, the subject could not be more universal, as the parallels with Buero Vallejo show more than half a century later. Moretti and his co-screenwriters strip away the most philosophical levels of the novel to remain only in the behaviors. Try to make it less theoretical and more exciting. It more than succeeds. The film is irresistible, powerful in its conflicts and beautiful in its background.
With that usual staging in Moretti, which can seem crude at some point in its simplicity, even if it is not at all, Three floors unfolds in the key of sentimental melodrama based on a tragic event: the run over of a woman in a zebra crossing adjacent to the building by the wayward son of one of the three main families. From there, despite the legacy of coexistence for years, successive misgivings arise, concatenated. They are the mistakes of life, which are paid, almost more than because there has been a great guilt, because they encyst in the mind and bodies until the impossibility of living. And when you start to make mistakes, it is difficult to stop.
Of a genuine and stabilizing sobriety, because part of conflicts that can even lead to the soap opera, the film clearly connects with Son’s room (2001), winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and with another magnificent title not directed by Moretti, but written and starring him: Calm chaos (2008), based on a novel by Sandro Veronesi. The nature of their disputes and commitments are those of the personal emptiness that ends up being expelled against their fellow human beings, and there Moretti’s film becomes great by placing the viewer in positions that are not far from their own daily life, planting them in front of the mirror of their own contradictions.
Address: Nanni Moretti.
Interpreters: Ricardo Scamarccio, Alba Rohrwacher, Margherita Buy, Nanni Moretti.
Gender: drama. Italy, 2021.
Duration: 119 minutes.
Premiere: December 10.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.