– Co-written with Francesca Archibugi, Maria Sole Tognazzi’s new movie takes a sensitive and understanding approach to tell the tale of a woman’s existential crisis and subsequent journey of rebirth
Margherita Buy and Barbara Ronchi in Dieci minuti
Following on from A Five Star Life [+see also:
film profile], Me, Myself and Her [+see also:
film profile], and the more recent TV series Petra, Maria Sole Tognazzi is continuing to place women at the centre of her work, shining a light on both their strengths and their weaknesses. In her latest feature film, Dieci minuti, which hits 150 Italian cinemas on 25 January courtesy of Vision Distribution, the director has loosely adapted a successful 2013 novel, helped with the screenplay by Francesca Archibugi (whose recent work behind the cameras includes The Hummingbird [+see also:
interview: Benedetta Porcaroli
film profile] and the series La storia). The book in question is Chiara Gamberale’s almost homonymous Per dieci minuti, whose protagonist is a forty-year-old woman who’s experiencing the worst time of her life, lost in an existential crisis since her husband left her and since she lost her job, and who’s advised by a somewhat surly psychiatrist to take an unusual escape route from her sadness.
Spending ten minutes every day doing something she’s never done before, something exciting or frightening, something which takes her outside of her comfort zone: this is the cure which Doctor Brabanti (Margherita Buy, now on her third of Tognazzi’s feature films) prescribes Bianca (Barbara Ronchi) as she somewhat impatiently hands her patient a box of tissues to dry her eyes. Bianca’s husband (Alessandro Tedeschi, also Ronchi’s husband in real life) recently left her after a twenty-year relationship which started back in university, just when she thought that everything was going well. Meanwhile, the paper she writes for gives her her marching orders: her articles aren’t of interest anymore. Bianca is in pieces, all her bearings now lost.
Through the interweaving of various time periods, flashbacks, and windows onto the future, the broken puzzle of the protagonist’s life is slowly pieced back together: a traffic accident, her admission to a psychiatric facility, a meeting with a younger half-sister whom she’d never before met (Fotinì Peluso), unspeakable family secrets, a suicide attempt… But, first and foremost, Bianca’s inability to listen to others and look beyond herself. As she pushes herself with a new endeavour every day, our lost heroine finally grows aware of other people’s pain and understands that life has far more to teach her than what she’s so-far learned, a realisation which helps her to widen her gaze, open herself up to change and step outside of her egotism.
“A human being’s greatest strength is weakness”, Doctor Brabanti reminds us, hiding a very particular therapeutic method behind her harsh exterior. If it’s true that every crisis presents an opportunity, Tognazzi’s film is a veritable hymn to fragility, also demonstrating understanding towards its male characters who seem reprehensible at first glance – Niccolò has another woman, and the way in which he leaves Bianca is cruel, but he has his reasons; Bianca’s father, played by Marcello Mazzarella, left his daughter who was born outside of marriage, he’s a man who made a mistake and he knows it. The film’s register moves away from the “Calvinian lightness” (as Gamberale describes it) of the book it’s based upon, leaning towards the dramatic, but it maintains its soberness and truth thanks to the performances of its three lead actresses, Ronchi, Buy and Peluso, who confirm their status as some of the best actors on the circuit.
(Translated from Italian)