Corrado Rinaldi (Paolo Pierobon) is a high-ranking official in the Italian government. He's charged with stemming the flow of illegal immigrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya into Europe. An ex-Olympic fencer and fomer police officer, Corrado is rigid and disciplined, traits he brings to his job, a job with a seemingly impossible mission.
The film begins as Corrado spends one final day with his family before leaving for Libya. Once in Africa, Corrado meets up with his colleague, Luigi (Giuseppe Battison) and a French official, Gerard (Olivier Rabourdin). The trio travel to a centre housing migrants. Corrado sees for himself the poor conditions of the centre and after being alerted by one of the inmates, demands to see a storage room where he finds a body. Foul play is suspected, despite protestations from the centre's guards that the migrant died of natural causes.
Corrado also comes into contact with a young Somali woman named Swada (Yusra Warsam). She pulls Corrado aside and tells him she fears for her safety. She gives Corrado a memory card and asks him to pass it on to her uncle in Italy. Corrado leaves the centre and continues his work in Libya, meeting with local officials and asking them to prevent migrants setting out for Italy. But with corruption and tribalism so entrenched in the country, Corrado suspects his efforts won't be enough.
Back in Italy, Corrado goes out of his way to pass on the memory card to Swada's uncle. Corrado messages Swada, and later they Skype. Swada explains that she is trying to reach her husband in Finland. Meanwhile, Corrado's bosses demand more results, as the number of boats reaching Italy never seems to wane. Corrado must find a way to deal with the Libyans and decide whether he is going to use his power and influence to get Swada out of Libya.
Directed by Andrea Segre and winner of the Human Rights Film Network Award at the Venice Film Festival, The Order of Things is a compelling and sophisticated look at a complicated problem. And the film acknowledges these complications and contradictions at every turn. Corrado and his fellow officials know the players in Libya and work at them from different angles. But they realise good intentions, and even lots of money, may not achieve anything.
Things get murkier still when Swada enters Corrado's vision. She represents the human face of the migration crisis - as opposed to the sterile numbers the government in Italy deals in. And this is where the film is strongest - when it highlights the contradictions of the migration issue. Indeed, Corrado charged with stopping people entering Europe, considers taking steps to save Swada from the camp so that she can reunite with her husband in Finland.
The Order of Things is an absorbing look at an issue too often related in simplistic terms. There are some fine performances, most notably from Paolo Pierobon in the lead role. His character manages to successfully convey all of the contradictions of a problem that is overwhelmingly vast, a problem which won't yield to quick solutions.
The Order of Things (L'ordine Delle Cose) is playing nationally as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival.
Find information on session times, locations and tickets here.