There’s an overweening artificiality to vet helmer Emidio Greco’s “News From the Excavations” that hamstrings viewer involvement and the subtleties of novelist Franco Lucentini’s vision. It’s unclear why Greco (“The Council of Egypt”) chose to shoot his adaptation with the stilted delivery of the stage, but his decision renders inert the story of a developmentally disabled factotum and his unlikely friendship with a suicidal prostitute. Another oddity is that Greco appears to have lost his visual imagination, resorting to a heavy literalness at odds with the story’s need for meaningful poetry. Even locally, theatrical potential is slim.
An obese lackey sarcastically nicknamed “the Professor” (Giuseppe Battiston) works for a madame (Iaia Forte) and her ladies in a large Roman apartment-cum-brothel. He’s told to deliver a message to “the Marchesa” (Ambra Angiolini), a prostitute whose failed suicide attempt landed her in the hospital. The story plays on the unlikeliness of this platonic couple, emphasizing their loneliness along with their disparate personalities. An awkward, pedantic lensing style gives the film the feel of an overstretched short story, and Luis Bacalov’s incongruously sweet music seems dropped in from another pic.