You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.

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


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

  • I Lost My Body

    French Animation 'I Lost My Body' Tops Cannes Critics' Week Winners

    “I Lost My Body,” a dark French animated film from writer-director Jérémy Clapin, has come up trumps in this year’s Critics’ Week program at the Cannes Film Festival, taking the strand’s top honor, the Nespresso Grand Prize. The film, which follows a young man’s severed hand as it struggles to be reunited with its own, [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Talent Agents Blast Verve Agreement With Writers Guild

    The lead negotiator for Hollywood’s talent agencies has again blasted the Writers Guild and its recent agreement with the Verve agency — and cautioned other agencies against following suit. Verve defected from the major agencies on May 16 when it became the first sizable Hollywood talent agency to sign the WGA’s Code of Conduct. That [...]

  • Forest Whitaker

    Netflix Teams With Forest Whitaker on 'Hello, Universe' Movie

    Netflix and Forest Whitaker are collaborating on live-action family movie “Hello, Universe,” based on the 2018 Newbery Award winner and New York Times bestselling novel by Erin Entrada Kelly. Playwright and screenwriter Michael Golamco (“Always Be My Maybe”) will adapt the book. Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi (“Fruitvale Station”) of Significant Productions will produce. The [...]

  • Lauren Ash44th Annual Gracie Awards, Show,

    Politics and New Abortion Ban Laws Dominate 2019 Gracie Awards

    Female empowerment was in the air Tuesday night as showrunners, writers and performers gathered at the 44th annual Gracie Awards to celebrate women breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings within the entertainment industry. Sandra Oh, Patricia Arquette, Rachel Maddow and Connie Britton were among the honorees at the ceremony, which took place at the Beverly [...]

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

    Film and TV Productions Are Using Drones for Scouting Locations, Lighting and More

    Since a ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 that cleared the use of drones in film and TV production, the acquisition of footage by these unmanned flying machines has become de rigueur for aerial shooting in cases when cranes or aircraft are impractical or unsafe.  As such, drones have been greeted enthusiastically not [...]

  • Filmmaker Maryam Touzani Talks About Her

    Filmmaker Maryam Touzani Talks About Her Cannes Debut, 'Adam'

    Debuting feature helmer-writer Maryam Touzani makes her Cannes bow with “Adam,” in Un Certain Regard. The Casablanca-set drama shows how a pregnant stranger changes the lives of a mother and her young daughter. What inspired your plot? When I moved back to Tangier after college, one day a young woman knocked on our door, looking [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content