Review: ‘Past Tense’

Comparisons with "The Big Chill" are inevitable in "Past Tense," a self-reflexive feature debut by helmer Maria Sole Tognazzi.. A group of twentysomethings reassembles for a weekend in a country house, but the characters, while nicely constructed, are hardly compelling in the long run. Pic has caught on in a small way with young Italian auds.

Comparisons with “The Big Chill” are inevitable — and even alluded to — in “Past Tense,” a self-reflexive feature debut by helmer Maria Sole Tognazzi, daughter of late actor Ugo and sister of director Ricky. A group of twentysomethings reassembles for a weekend in a country house, but the characters, while nicely constructed, are hardly compelling in the long run. Pic has caught on in a small way with young Italian auds since opening late March.

Tognazzi, who also co-scripted, brought in fellow showbiz brat Valentina Cervi (granddaughter of Gino), plus actor brother Gianmarco and other friends, to illustrate the anxieties of a group of thespians sorting out their careers and love lives. Summoned by Claudia (Paola Cortellesi) to her soon-to-be-sold country home, the five friends gather after a similar sleepover two seasons earlier, only this time changes in relationships and career opportunities create nagging tensions. Despite the barred windows in the opening scene, the characters are trapped in neither the house nor their lives, and a feeling of normality, even mediocrity, hovers over their stories. Editing is first rate, but overall, the pic barely registers a blip.

Past Tense

Italy

Production

A Medusa release of a Medusa Film/Seal Prod. production. Produced by Barbara Genio, Ilaria Cirino Pomicino. Directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi. Screenplay, Daniele Prato, Tognazzi.

Crew

Camera (Technicolor prints), Giulio Pietromarchi; editor, Walter Fasano; music, Andrea Guerra; production designer, Enzo De Camillis; costume designer, Francesca Casciello. Reviewed at Multisala Barberini, Rome, April 5, 2003. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Paola Cortellesi, Valentina Cervi, Claudio Santamaria, Ignazio Oliva, Claudio Gioe, Francesca Figus, Alessia Barela, Gianmarco Tognazzi, Pierfrancesco Favino.
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