July 1, 2015 – By Nathaniel Dove
Noi e la Giulia, translated as Us And The Julia (a car, an Alfa Romeo), is a charming comedy that reminds you that it is important to gamble on what makes you happy. It is a wonderful film and even through subtitles the characters come to life.
It begins with the very unlikely event where three perfect strangers meet and buy an old farmhouse together with the intent of renovating it into some sort of hotel. Any errors of probability are quickly forgiven as the three protagonists move into the farmhouse and attempt to renovate it. Events quickly spiral out of control as they are joined by additional characters, some of whom are mafiosos and are kept in the basement. The results are always fun and funny.
This film, based on the novel Alfa Romeo 1300 and Other Miracles by Fabio Bartolomei, uses quiet character development, by which I mean transformations are subtle. It is a natural progression from disagreeing with one another to standing beside one another in support, despite each other’s faults. This is not a common occurrence is most films as it requires a delicacy from the script and in the performances. That Noi e la Giulia pulls it off is no doubt due to the strength of the source material, as well as the work of the actors and actor/director Edoardo Leo. I spoke to Edoardo Leo over the phone about the film.
You shot this film in sequence, which is unusual for films, over 5 1/2 weeks. Do you think this added anything to the performances?
We were able to do that because the film was located in one location. It is very important for the actors to follow the story, to follow the physical changes around them. This was like a play. And by filming this way we could edit while shooting and it gave me a chance to change the story. I could cut scenes as needed.
Were there many changes between the book in the film?
I didn’t change the heart of the story, but I was able to make it more comedic and find new comedy within it. I was really able to harp on the comedic aspect and again change some scenes and make changes with the actors.
Did you find it challenging to act and direct in the same film, to separate yourself from the character?
This is the only way I know how to work. I’ve done three films where I have acted and directed and this is easier for me. I can decide with the actors what works or to change scenes as need be.
I’m curious about your film because like an Italian film from last year called The Great Beauty, your film is coming out of a country that is facing hard economic times and the same is true for your characters. Are you worried about how these times will affect art in Italy?
It is challenging but I look to find artists and directors to find new solutions. There is not a lot of money for art right now so we need a new way to face this crisis. Perhaps this crisis could be a new opportunity to launch a new wave of Italian cinema.
You must be very happy with the reception you got from Canadians and Italian-Canadians with your film. I understand this was the first time your film was screened outside of Italy.
I was very curious with how it would go, and also emotional. Yesterday [when it was screened] I was surprised but very happy.