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Twisted tale of Reality

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From acclaimed Italian director Matteo Garrone comes Reality, the somewhat twisted tale of Luciano (Aniello Arena) and his fascination with reality TV show Big Brother.

Scraping a living as a fishmonger while earning a few lire on the side by fencing kitchen appliances via his long-suffering wife, Luciano meets the ridiculous Enzo, star of Big Brother, at a wedding reception.  Encouraged by his children to audition for the forthcoming season of the television show, he becomes convinced he will be offered a spot in the house and from there his life begins to unravel faster than a fish basket.

What begins as a comedy, however, soon becomes something darker, a portrait of an honest man turned by the lure of wealth and fame into a bumbling fool convinced that everyone he meets is a spy for the television show.  After separating from his wife and giving away his possessions to the homeless, Luciano watches the show day and night, his life now nothing but unreality, yet he is still convinced he will appear on the show.

Garrone’s last film, Gomorra, a look at organised crime, was due to star Arena, a member of the Camorra crime syndicate who was serving a life sentence for murder, but prison authorities refused to give permission. This time around, Garrone got his man and Arena’s performance as the starry-eyed Luciano proves that every dog has its day in the sun. Unfortunately, however, such is not the case for the hapless Luciano.

Reality has its pros and cons – on the upside, it is beautifully shot, and on the down, it is overly long-winded – but apart from periods of unnecessary slapstick it is an enjoyable look at the modern-day curse of instant karma. This is Big Brother, indeed.

 

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