The general atmosphere of a steel-factory town in August is nicely rendered in Stefano Mordini’s sophomore feature, “Steel.” Shot in the seaside city of Piombino, the pic understands the struggles of the working class (addressed in Mordini’s debut “Provincia meccanica”) in a locale gripped by the economic crisis, but a stronger narrative is needed to bring the characters out of a late summer haze. Focusing on a worker, his younger sis and her steely best friend, “Steel” captures their personalities but not their stories, resulting in an interesting yet uninvolving drama. Italo showcases might take a look.Alessio (Michele Riondino, “Dormant Beauty”) makes railroad tracks in the local steel plant, content in a job that’s sustained the town for generations. Though still in love with ex Elena (Vittoria Puccini), he’s furious when she engineers a layoff reprieve for him while allowing co-workers to be sacked. Alessio’s teen sis Anna (Matilde Giannini) and best friend Francesca (Anna Bellezza) are uncertain about present and future, uneasily straddling the border between innocence and disillusioned maturity. Perfs, including those of newcomers Giannini and Bellezza, are topnotch; impressionistic, textured lensing and music selections particularly satisfy.
A Palomar production with Rai Cinema, in association with BNL -- Gruppo BNP Paribas, with the collaboration of Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita Culturali -- Direzione Generale Cinema. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Carlo Degli Esposti. Executive producer, Patrizia Massa. Directed by Stefano Mordini. Screenplay, Giulia Calenda, Mordini, Silvia Avallone, based on the novel "Acciaio" by Silvia Avallone.
Camera, Marco Onorato; editors, Jacopo Quadri, Marco Spoletini; music, Andrea Mariano; production designer, Luciano Ticceri; costume designer, Ursula Patzak; sound, Emanuele Cecere; assistant director, Davide Bertoni; casting, Gianluca Greco. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Sept. 2, 2012. Running time: 97 MIN.
Michele Riondino, Vittoria Puccini, Anna Bellezza, Matilde Giannini, Francesco Turbanti, Luca Guastini, Monica Brachini, Massimo Popolizio.