A wealth of good ideas scattered far and wide, “Between Land and Sky” seems unsure where to put down its wheels. Absurdist story of a despondent man manipulated by those around him, pic attempts to skewer politics and the media but is too diffuse to make incisive points. Italian release since mid-April has been on a limited scale, though film could appeal to some offshore auds seeking contemporary social satire.
Simone (Davide Gemmani) is having a really bad day: he’s been fired from his factory job, and his wife (Antonella D’Arcangelo) is sleeping with his boss (heartthrob Fabio Fulco). This betrayal by those he trusts prompts him to climb atop the factory chimney and, like his column-squatting namesake, St. Simon Stylites, remains perched there indefinitely.
Once the media gets wind, the site becomes a frenzy of activity as Simone’s family, co-workers and superiors, plus politicians, use his simple, meaningless cry of desperation to further their own causes. When Simone finally wants to come down, no one can hear his pleas for help.
A remake by helmer Giuseppe Ferlito of his own 1995 video feature, “Our Comrade Who Art in Heaven” (Compagno che sei nei cieli), pic takes Luis Bunuel’s 1965 classic, “Simon of the Desert,” as an obvious influence, but with a generous sprinkling of “Meet John Doe” as well. However, this tale of a weak everyman unable to control his destiny isn’t quite up to the summits it strives to reach.
Ferlito never manages to tame the circus he whips up and, though there’s plenty of material for the film to satirize, too much has been thrown into the mix. Media whores push against real whores as everyone from avaricious capitalists to power-hungry communists jockey for their all-important moment on the air. But soon the script’s antsy focus — a queeny fashion designer should be axed completely – leaves the viewer longing for some judicious editing.
Camerawork is skilled, and Ferlito enjoys blending in TV news images — including B&W ones — to blur the audience’s sources of information. Knowledge of Italy’s byzantine politics and inane TV shows is a help in understanding many of the jokes. Pic bears a 2001 copyright date.