Thoughts on…La Vita Che Vorrei: A Film Review

La Vita Che Vorrei - DVD case/cover of the main actors leaning in to kiss

La Vita Che Vorrei - Movie CoverEuropean film La Vita Che Vorrei is set in Rome and written in Italian. It was released Oct. 1, 2004, and competed in the 27th Moscow International Film Festival in 2005. The film stars Sandra Ceccarelli as its leading lady, Laura, and Luigi Lo Cascio as its leading man, Stefano. In the film, these two characters play actors. The film opens with an interview of Laura and cuts to her audition for the fictional film within this movie, La Vita Che Vorrei. In English, this translates to “The Life I Wish I Had,” according to Auburn University Italian professor Anna Chiafele. The most prominent sub-characters include the film’s director, Luca, and Laura’s initial love interest, Raffaele. Her romantic interests are quickly swayed as she is cast alongside Stefano in the film. Their onscreen passion becomes personal, and a tangled dynamic forms between Stefano, Laura and Raffaele. As an added twist, Raffaele is involved in the film industry and well-liked as such. This complicates Laura’s affair with Stefano as she tries to convince Raffaele that what he sees in rehearsals is not true. In the film the actors are shooting, Laura, a young, outgoing idealist aspiring to fame, plays a naive girl finding herself mixed in a web of disreputable acts as she seeks glory. Not coincidentally, Stefano, an established actor of prestige, plays a passionately jealous, self-righteous lover. Their lives begin to model that of their characters, and Laura becomes remorsefully disillusioned by the life she once thought she wanted. When she becomes pregnant with Raffaele’s baby, she must choose a new life for which to wish. Themes of false reality and a lost sense of self are recurrent throughout.

 

Director and screenplay writer Giuseppe Piccioni has created a multi-layered film fit for any audience of a mature age. Its depth provides a layer for a viewer in any stage or walk of life to relate to. I find it impressive that I, an English-speaking American, found myself relating to aspects of these Italian-speaking, European characters. This is the mark of brilliant writing and a profound understanding of the human psyche. I found myself taking breaks from reading the subtitles to appreciate the scenes so well-communicated through the actors. While its content was more graphic and explicit than expected from my cultural background, I found this to be a classic example of the typical American reaction to a foreign cinematic piece. Piccioni delicately and clearly parallels Laura and Stefano’s characters to that of the ones they are chosen to play in La Vita Che Vorrei. This type of character development and theme emphasis is once again employed in the relationship between the viewer and the film itself. Because both the actual film and the fictional one within it both have the same name, this provides an immediate illustration of the movie’s message. The fictional film is about the loss of one’s identity in his/her search for fame, or ironically, the ideal of exploiting an identity now lost. The actual film has the same theme as Laura’s intentions go awry, and she loses herself searching for what she thought she wanted the most. Without her true identity at heart, she cannot know what she truly wants or justify how she’s ended up in the mess in which she finds herself. The third theme reiteration by use of parallel appears from the vantage point of the viewer watching a movie entitled La Vita Che Vorrei (“The Life I Wish I Had”). While watching what appears to be a luxurious life to desire, suddenly the viewer finds the idea distasteful as the plot unfolds, ultimately leaving him or her sure of at least one single thing as the credits roll: the life they wish to never have.

 

I would recommend this to my peers as well as any adult transitioning into a different phase of life. We, as college upperclassmen, are preparing to exit the world of academia and enter the one of the professional workforce. I graduate in December – just six months away. In some way I’m feeling all the things that the characters in this film do as they try to decide what they really what and the extends to which they will go to get it. That’s why this film can speak to so many people of all different ages, languages and cultures. When you explore the frustrations and decisions our humanity presents to us on a daily basis, you touch the heart of mankind.



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