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.