Cinema Made in Italy. Hosted by Cine Lumiere February 26th to March 3rd
Directed by: Bonifacio Angius
Cast: Alessandro Gazale, Francesca Niedda, Antonio Angius
"Alessandro Gazale is Alessandro incarnate, a giant, rugged character, at once alarming and sensitive."
"This is a quirky, amusing love film, part road journey, part Sardinian country and western. There is plenty of emotive music, booze and fights with deeper undertones that make you curious right from the start."
An ageing, alcoholic singer from Sardinia, ends up in rehab after petrifying his elderly mother one evening in a drunken rage. There he meets his match in a downtrodden single mother who is under a restraining order. Unable to control his drinking, he embarks on a journey helping her kidnap her son.
Alessandro Gazale is Alessandro incarnate, a giant, rugged character, at once alarming and sensitive. His beautiful voice has amounted to little – he lives with his mother; he drinks in futility. Francesca Niedda embodies her namesake, a woman unhinged and barely able to help herself. Although a fascinating match, their love story doesn't always add up. Despite Alessandro's act of altruism, his character can come across as overly self-centred and Francesca is too absent, forever staring into the distance. That aside, this is a window into the parochial life of the Sardinian underclass. Against a barren, beautiful landscape, Bonifacio Angius shows the relentless inertia of island life which must have something to do with Alessandro’s angry desperation.
This is a quirky, amusing love film, part road journey, part Sardinian country and western. There is plenty of emotive music, booze and fights with deeper undertones that make you curious right from the start.
Capital Reviewer met Bonifacio Angius at the Italian Cultural Institute whilst he was in London for Cinema, Made in Italy. The acclaimed Sardinian director discussed how he used locals and members of his own family and circle in the making of Wherever You Are, not least his young son who plays Francesca's son. This goes some way in shedding light on the easy nature of the little boy, his precociousness as a young tearaway and his fit with the cavalier style of Wherever You Are.
Casting is certainly central to Angius's ouvre, particularly how he collaborates with the actors. He worked for a year with both leads developing and finely tuning their personas ready for shooting. Although Alessandro Gazale seems to be Alessandro personified, Angius reveals that the actor is nothing like his character. Gazales learnt to live his screen persona, in the tradition of method acting.
On meeting Angius, it became clear that elements of the film might be lost in translation. The title is a common Italian phrase of regard, affection or love for someone even if they are not around, as if saying you are in my thoughts or heart "wherever you are", signifying the final scenes of the film. Also, perhaps not immediately clear to outsiders is the institution in which Alessandro and Francesca meet. It is a hospital for the mentally ill, not a rehab for recovering alcoholics or drug users. Francesca is recovering from a break down brought on by the authorities intervention and removing her little boy. She is neither an alcoholic or drug user, although who knows what drugs have been prescribed during her rehabilitation.
Rather like Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home, Angius is interested in the contextualisation of mental illness and how the state intervenes and its consequences. It became clear from talking with Angius that this is central to Wherever You Are overtaking Alessandro's screen story as a disenfranchised alcoholic. In the end it is Francesca's story of mental collapse and Alessandro's realisation that he can intervene and make a difference to the mother and son against all odds that resounds in Wherever You Are.