Valeria Bruni Tedeschi has been cast as a morally and economically bankrupt matron in Italian director Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli’s movie adaptation of “The Time of Indifference,” author Alberto Moravia’s scathing critique of the Fascist-era bourgeoisie.
Seràgnoli, a young helmer known for “Last Summer” and “Likemeback” – which bowed at the Rome and Locarno fests, respectively – has started shooting his contemporary take on the widely translated novel in Rome. First published in 1929, when Moravia was 21, “Gli Indifferenti” captured the middle-class malaise of its time and established Moravia as a world-class writer.
The story sees members of an upper-crust Rome family reacting to a financial crisis that is undermining their social status. Mariagrazia, played by Bruni Tedeschi, is a widow with an unscrupulous lover, Leo, played by Edoardo Pesce (“Dogman”). She has two children by her dead husband: Carla, whom Leo has the hots for, and Michele, who is aware that Leo is trying to seduce his sister but is somehow indifferent.
Carla is played by newcomer Beatrice Grannò, and Michele by Vincenzo Crea (“Children of the Night”). Italian A-lister Giovanna Mezzogiorno (“Vincere”) has a secondary role as Leo’s former lover Lisa, who is in pursuit of Michele.
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“The Time of Indifference” was previously brought to the big screen in Italy in 1964 by Francesco Maselli, who cast Paulette Godard as Mariagrazia, Claudia Cardinale as Carla, and Rod Steiger as Leo. A 1988 TV movie adaptation by Mauro Bolognini for Mediaset starred Liv Ullman as Mariagrazia and Peter Fonda as Leo.
Seràgnoli said he and co-writer Alessandro Valenti worked on maintaining novelist Moravia’s narrative structure and scenes sequence “as much as possible” for their present-day version. Cameras started rolling earlier this month in a posh apartment in Rome’s Parioli quarter, where Moravia was born. A six-week shoot is planned.
“Moravia was describing a climate, a feeling of almost existential oppression,” Seràgnoli said, adding that this mood “has a lot of relevance today, with right-wing forces making advances” not just in Italy but around the world.
“It’s the story of a family that in 2019 has lost everything and is trying to stay afloat at any cost,” he noted, adding that Bruni Tedeschi’s character, whose lover is swindling the family while lending them money, “represents the patriarchal system that has not evolved.”
Bruni Tedeschi, born in Italy but raised in France, won a Cesar Award in 1994 for her lead role in Lawrence Ferreira Barbosa’s “Normal People Are Nothing Exceptional.” She scored David di Donatello Awards in Italy for her work in two films directed by Paolo Virzì: one for “Like Crazy,” in 2017, and the other for “Human Capital,” in 2014.
The new iteration of “The Time of Indifference” is being co-produced by Milan’s expanding Indiana Production (“Like Crazy”) with Sky Italia’s theatrical arm, Vision Distribution, which will release it in Italy.