This film of Matteo Garrone’s (his third to be precise) seems at times to almost be an independent American film in the best tradition of Hal Hartly. It follows Terra di mezzo and Ospiti and this time, the marginality that of off, off theatres. The film is set in the multi-ethnic bazaar that is Rome’s Piazza Vittorio. It is a place that is full of contradictions and trams, with the old residents of the area all worried about losing their flats and shops. Rossella Or was the muse of the alternative 70s and in this film she plays “almost” herself. “Reality is the only play you can stage,” a young director, prototype of so many irritating and exasperating intellectuals, tells her, “but reality is escaping from us all the time.”
Rossella is somewhat exhauster and returns home to find that a lazy and ugly set designer has moved in with his young assistant, an unmarried mother who has a greedy mother-in-law who would like to take away her little daughter, deeming her to be an unfit mother. Various trips around Rome follow, including a rather surreal one to Torvaianica. The Roman nights are all very kitsch: full of boring parties where unpublished stories are read out loud. We examine the characters more closely. The characters are all very charismatic and they lack the smallest bit of aesthetic glamour. The film has many funny and tragic moments and the storyline (written by Garrone and Massimo Gaudioso) is stronger than ever. Estate Romana was also Victor Cavallo’s last film. Also to be noted is the brief apparition of Paolo Sassanelli in the role of a policeman.