The tyranny of the single take pairs with digital technology, then dances awkwardly around ruminations on Western decadence in "The Waltz."

The tyranny of the single take pairs with digital technology, then dances awkwardly around ruminations on Western decadence in “The Waltz.” Speechifying narrative claims we are all slaves to greed, but sporadic helmer Salvatore Maira proves, with his camera, that too much freedom can also be a bad thing. Outside festivals, this pretentious Italian melodrama’s dance card is likely to remain vacant.

When a former political prisoner (Maurizio Micheli) comes to a ritzy Turin hotel looking for his daughter, Lucia (Marina Rocco), virtuous maid Assunta (Valeria Solarino) discloses it was she, not his long-gone offspring, who wrote him letters during his 10-year internment. The puzzled man accompanies Assunta on her rounds, and the pair literally walk into flashbacks revealing the reasons for Lucia’s absence. Pic poses (like Hitchcock’s “Rope”) as a one-take movie (hence no editor credit), but at least one cut is visible. Continuous Steadicam work shows virtuosity, but pic too often feels like a rambling theater production. Thesps are solid but struggle under the weight of the sermonizing dialogue. HD-originated lensing is a tad dark, but copes well with variable lighting.

The Waltz

Italy

Production

A Home Prods. production, in association with Turin Piedmont Film Commission. (International sales: Scalpel, Paris.) Produced by Gianmario Feletti, Marco Quntili, Stefano Sciarra, Marisa Grieco. Directed, written by Salvatore Maira.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Maurizio Calvesi; music, Nicola Campogrande; production designer, Seanne Grasso. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (competing), Oct. 25, 2007. (Also in Venice Film Festival -- Venice Days; London Film Festival.) Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Valeria Solarino, Maurizio Micheli, Marina Rocco, Graziano Piazza, Eugenio Allegri.

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