"The Bogeyman" recycles shop-worn Italo nostalgia without giving it a fresh coat of paint.

Grafting Felliniesque touches onto a wannabe autobiography, actor-helmer Sergio Rubini’s “The Bogeyman” recycles shop-worn Italo nostalgia without giving it a fresh coat of paint. Pic further indulges Rubini’s aversion to art critics (“At a Glance”), here seen through a child’s eyes in ’60s provincial Puglia, where a dreamer father and a rakish uncle educate the kid in the ways of the world. Big-name cast helped “Bogeyman” open at No. 8 in early December, but couldn’t sustain the momentum.

Pic is a long flashback by Gabriele (Fabrizio Gifuni) to a time when, as a boy (Guido Giaquinto), he witnessed his station-master dad, Ernesto (Rubini), pursue his dreams of becoming a painter. Ernesto gets his chance at a solo exhibition but has his hopes destroyed by pompous critic Venusio (Vito Signorile). Narrative plays like an inexpertly developed short story, while borrowings from Fellini (fantasized figures from the past, etc.) feel secondhand. As in many Rubini films, the female roles (Valeria Golino as Gabriele’s mom, for example) are either underdeveloped or not prominent. However, as the uncle, Riccardo Scarmacio shows he’s still growing as an enjoyable screen presence.

The Bogeyman

Italy

Production

A 01 Distribution release of a BiancaFilm, RAI Cinema presentation of a BiancaFilm production, in association with RAI Cinema. Produced by Donatella Botti. Directed by Sergio Rubini. Screenplay, Domenico Starnone, Carla Cavalluzzi, Rubini.

Crew

Camera (color), Fabio Cianchetti; editor, Esmeralda Calabria; music, Nicola Piovani; production designer, Luca Gobbi; costume designer, Maurizio Millenotti. Reviewed at Alcazar, Rome, Dec. 8, 2009. Original title: L'uomo nero. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Sergio Rubini, Valeria Golino, Riccardo Scamarcio, Fabrizio Gifuni, Guido Giaquinto, Anna Falchi, Margherita Buy, Vito Signorile, Maurizio Micheli, Vittorio Ciorcalo, Mario Maranzana, Mariolina De Fano, Adelaide Di Bitonto, Pierluigi Corallo, Nicoletta Carbonara, Isabella Ragno.
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