A Ciambra Screen 6 articles

A Ciambra

2017

A Ciambra Poster
  • Carpignano’s approach is not going to sit well with viewers who want a story reliant on outcomes. But viewers interested in a rarely-documented side of life will get caught up in this frank portrayal of a boy who’s not sure how to be a man.

  • The measure of the success of a film like A Ciambra isn’t necessarily that it departs from a historically successful aesthetic program; it’s perhaps more to do with the degree to which a filmmaker undertakes to become embedded in the world that’s being explored. In Carpignano’s case, that embedding seems absolute and very intense.

  • The result is busy, murky, and remote. It doesn’t have the leftie political clarity of Ken Loach, the purposeful intensity of the Dardenne brothers, or even the character development of Ramin Bahrani’s early features. The past 70 years have produced no shortage of good and interesting films inspired by the socially conscious tough-luck realism of gritty post-war Italian cinema. Despite its naturalistic setting and cast, A Ciambra turns out to be strictly run-of-the-mill.

  • The film is most engrossing in its opening act, when its camera is freed from the demands of plot, channeling Pio's peripatetic spirit. That is, disoriented in the chaos and loudness of the Italian city's Romani community. . . . Once the toxicity and the violence is established and surveyed, which is right away, the film runs out of genuine things to say and resorts to a sense of fiction that feels repetitive and fake.

  • The film is at its best when Carpignano captures the textures of everyday life, suggesting the neorealists with his use of nonprofessional actors and on-location shooting. . . . In one of the most compelling scenes, both emotionally and visually, Pio encounters a horse at night and follows it, seemingly transfixed. The moment jolts us from neorealism; the horse suggests a fairy tale. Pio’s expression may often be ambiguous, but here he conveys an intriguing longing for a better world.

  • In addition to adhering to standard boy-meets-world patterns, A Ciambra also provides a bittersweet lesson on the perpetuation of prejudice. With a different kind of filmmaking approach, A Ciambrawould be recognized for the middlebrow humanism that it is. Lest this seem fully pejorative, let me make it clear, A Ciambra is a very fine piece of middlebrow cinema, and I fully expect Carpignano to be working in Hollywood before all is said and done.

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