Luciano (Aniello Arena) is a happy, simple man who runs a small fish shop, is a devoted father and husband, and provides entertainment for a large extended family with his constant jovial banter, jokes and hijinks. A natural-born charmer and performer, Luciano is coaxed by well-meaning friends and neighbours to audition for the next season of Big Brother , where they all believe he’d be a hit. Against a backdrop of celebrity-obsessed Berlusconian Italy, Luciano’s mission to become a huge reality TV star seems like a plausible slippery slope to go down.
After an unsuccessful audition, the by now singularly focused Luciano continues to obsess with his chances of ending up on the show, even becoming convinced that TV execs are spying on him to see if he’s really the right man for the job. Luciano becomes erratic, pushing away his loving family and risking his happy life for a chance at something he believes will be far greater.
Reality is a fantastic observation of how reality television’s impact has grown outside of North America. The Big Brother phenomenon hit Italy much later than it did here, but the fact that the show seems a bit dated doesn’t lessen the impact of the film at all. Garrone followed up his gritty Mafia epic Gomorrah with this film, which looks not only at celebrity obsessed culture, but also at how easy it is to become dissatisfied with something that made you happy moments before. Arena gives a brilliant performance as the charming yet delusional Luciano, a good man whose well intentioned dreams threaten to ruin everything he holds dear.
Is Reality Essential TIFF Viewing?
Yes. The film garnered many accolades in Cannes and is sure to be one of he year’s most talked about pictures. I’d even wager that it gets a Foreign Language Oscar nod, in which case you’ll be able to say “oh, I saw that ages ago”.
Screening Times for Reality
- Wednesday September 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
- Thursday September 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm at Scotiabank 3
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