A guy and a girl drive around Rome at night looking for a parking spot so they can have sex at her place. That’s the premise of “2night,” a low-budgeter whose execution is as basic as its plot description. With such a bare-bones story, everything hinges on casting, and director Ivan Silvestrini is extremely fortunate to have Matilde Gioli and Matteo Martari in the front seats, since their charisma pulls off this talk-fest. Essentially a more minimalist remake of Roi Werner’s 2011 Israeli film “2 Night,” this Italian version also aims to give a 21st century vibe to the age-old male-female thing, with mixed results. A targeted marketing campaign could boost business once it opens at home in February; elsewhere, Italian showcases may take a look.
If the movie manages to get traction on social media, there’s likely to be some debate about whether it’s got a feminist edge – Gioli’s character is the driving force in the seduction – or if her sexed-up, take-control attitude merely plays into male fantasies. She’s got enough of a personality to not be defined by penile projections, yet her admission that she only feels alive when a man desires her essentially precludes any feminist leanings. It could be claimed that her ability to verbalize this feeling means her self-awareness counters reductionist readings, though that would be a hard argument to win convincingly here.
In any event, she’s the character with lasting resonance, thanks in large part to Gioli’s considerable screen presence. Though still needing a major, meaty role after her breakthrough performance in “Human Capital,” Gioli again proves she’s one of Italy’s most interesting young actresses, and if nothing else, “2night” is an excellent showcase reel for her talents. It’s not just her physical charms, although her huge blue eyes and full pouty lips are perhaps necessary attributes for this needy woman. But far more impressive is the actress’s ability to make a character of only intermittent interest, often babbling inanities, into someone the audience cares about.
In the first of numerous bad moves, the screenwriters keep with the original’s unfortunate decision to leave the characters unnamed, identifying them only as “he” and “she.” She picks him (Martari) up at a nightclub, gets into his car, and with brazen self-assurance tells him to drive to her place. They chat while he drives, her strong seduction meeting with his less forthright yet eager acceptance of the tryst. The gimmick is that no matter where they look, they can’t find a parking space, forcing them to wend their way through Rome and enabling Silvestrini the chance to mix a two-hander character study with reasonably attractive images of the city (predominantly the outskirts).
Much of the dialogue is generically outré at the start, then devolves to expected blather folded into easy psychobabble, with occasional moments meant to reawaken the dulled set-up, such as when she says “I love this song!” and the radio’s volume is cranked up to move the action along. Perhaps the only real surprise is that, despite becoming bored with the scenario, viewers maintain a certain degree of curiosity about the characters, largely because the performers keeps our attention. Martari, a model-turned-actor, may be overshadowed by Gioli, but his quieter role is the more difficult one to pull off, and he holds his own. Sound quality however is occasionally problematic, as if deadened in the studio.