I Was A Dreamer (il più grande sogno) is an offbeat, melancholy comedy/drama directed by Michele Vannucci. Admittedly this is a broad description, but the film sees Vannucci weaving many different themes (each centred around one of the main characters) into a pensive and complex tale set in contemporary Rome.
The main character, Mirko, is played by the same man upon whom the film is based on in real life, Mirko Frezza. Frezza is a giant of a man, and Vannucci was struck with the chemistry between he and Alessandro Borghi (playing Boccione in this film) during casting for an earlier film.
Frezza straddles the narrative of this film, with each of the themes presented by Vannucci resonating in the character of Mirko: regret, reproach, rejection, revulsion, rebirth.
Bearded and tattooed, he is certainly not the typical Italian man. Forty years old, and recently released from prison, he returns to his home and tries to re-enter life outside. Struggling to reconnect with his eldest daughter, out of frustration Mirko agrees to become the supervisor of the resident's committee in his apartment complex.
What follows is Mirko's struggle with his family's demons, and his atonement for the damage he caused the other residents in the past.
It's an engaging movie, and the documentary cinéma vérité style works exceptionally well to convey the sense of being an invisible observer, almost as if you were seeing a side to Mirko that you wouldn't if he knew you were watching.
The supporting characters, especially Michelle (Ginevra De Carolis) and Pierino (Vittorio Viviani), are colourful and add another layer of complexity to Mirko's quest to resolve absolutely everything in his life.
Harsh urban visuals and restrained music really round off the film. Despite the gritty setting however, the story is optimistic and introduces you to a family you may otherwise not have met. They're dysfunctional, but the love they hold for each other endures despite the squalor and poverty of their surroundings.
I really found myself invested in them, and their quest for a better lot in life.
The original Italian title, "il più grande sogno", can be translated to mean "The largest dream"; this title, as well as the lyrics to the song playing over the end credits, will certainly give you food for thought.
I Was A Dreamer is rated M15+, and is playing nationally as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival from September 12th to October 25th.
For more information on the festival, including venues, session times, and pricing, visit the film festival's official site here.