×

The Power of the Past

Working around the intriguing theme of how well we know the people close to us, "The Power of the Past" hinges on the simultaneous discovery by a successful children's novelist of his wife's infidelity and his late father's secret double life. Piergiorgio Gay's sober, mature direction make the classy production watchable.

With:
Gianni Orzan - Sergio Rubini Bogliasco - Bruno Ganz Anna Orzan - Sandra Ceccarelli

Working around the intriguing theme of how well we know the people close to us, “The Power of the Past” hinges on the simultaneous discovery by a successful children’s novelist of his wife’s infidelity and his late father’s secret double life. Piergiorgio Gay’s sober, mature direction and Sergio Rubini’s wired lead performance make the classy production watchable. But its dialogue-heavy, literary approach and the somewhat fanciful central plot conceit taken from Sandro Veronesi’s source novel tag the drama for modest commercial gains.

Following his father’s funeral, Gianni (Rubini) is approached by a cagey older man, Bogliasco (Bruno Ganz), who knows a great deal about his personal life. Fearing the stranger to be a stalker, he sends his wife (Sandra Ceccarelli) and son out of town. But the man persists in getting close to him, eventually revealing he knew Gianni’s father. No longer able to bear the burden of secrecy, Bogliasco informs him that the dead man was not a Fascist Party official as Gianni believed, but a Russian-born diehard Communist and undercover KGB spy.

This rather preposterous revelation at first prompts disbelief in Gianni. But gradually, as the elements fit together, the surprising knowledge causes him to question the direction his own life has taken — his mistakes, his career, his relationship with his wife, the closeness he was denied with his father and the bond he hopes to construct with his son. Gianni’s emotional and self-analytical journey is paralleled with the quest of the Tolkienesque fantasyland adventurer hero (Sebastiano Moise) from his books, who assumes the form of the protagonist as a child.

Despite this invention and Rubini’s nervous, fragile characterization, the initially engrossing drama produces no real hook, becoming increasingly lethargic and dull. With his quaint, Mittel European-accented Italian, Ganz is an enigmatic presence, though the actor appears to have stepped straight from his role in “Bread and Tulips.” Ceccarelli — who starred in Gay’s previous films “Three Stories” and “Watch the Sky” — seems morose and lifeless.

Coming from one of Italy’s most talented lensers, Luca Bigazzi’s work here is a disappointment, failing to inject much atmosphere into the gray-looking locations in northern port city Trieste. More interesting is the plucky, unconventional score by art rock band Quintorigo.

The Power of the Past

Italy

Production: An Istituto Luce release of a Lionello Cerri, Luigi Musini presentation of an Albachiara/Istituto Luce production. (International sales: Adriana Chiesa Enterprises, Rome.) Produced by Lionello Cerri. Executive producer, Roberto Belluzzi. Directed by Piergiorgio Gay. Screenplay, Lara Fremder, Gay, based on the novel by Sandro Veronesi.

Crew: Camera (Cinecitta color), Luca Bigazzi; editor, Carlotta Cristiani; music, Quintorigo; art director, Paola Comencini; costume designer, Francesca Sartori; sound (Dolby Digital), Mario Iaquone; assistant directors, Alina Marazzi, Sergej Grguric. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing, Venezia 59), Sept. 5, 2002. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: Gianni Orzan - Sergio Rubini Bogliasco - Bruno Ganz Anna Orzan - Sandra CeccarelliWith: Mariangela D'Abbraccio, Valeria Moriconi, Giuseppe Battiston, Aleksander Krosl, Barbara Cerar, Sebastiano Moise.

More Film

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” based on the memoir of the late Lee Israel, topped the screenplays [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content