Cosimo and Nicole (2012)
dir: Francesco Amato
cast: Riccardo Scamarcio, Clara Ponsot, Paolo Sassanelli
From the opening visuals of Cosimo and Nicole we are thrust into an acutely intimate and desperately passionate story tracking the tumultuous affinity shared between the two lead actors. This relationship is the most arresting feature of a fraught drama set in the aftermath of the G8 riots in Genoa in 2001. Showing in Melbourne as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2013, the film is only the second feature by upcoming Italian writer-director Francesco Amato whose debut feature What the Hell Am I Doing Here? impressed me immensely back in 2006.
Amato’s punchy, intriguing direction flourishes in the first half of the film as we are navigated cleverly through scenes involving Cosimo and Nicole being interviewed seperately by police; racing wildly through the Italian Alps on a motorcycle; meeting each other for the first time admist the smoke and violence of the riots; and erotically intertwined in the lustful sexual acts of young lovers. As the aesthetics are established and the story settles downs we find the two stumbling into jobs helping the rough-around-the-edges Paolo, an opportunistic concert promoter who sees something of himself in the erratic Cosimo. This fragile happiness is never destined to last, however.
On a routine set up before a big concert one of the illegal African workers, the reserved Alioune, makes an innocent bet with Cosimo in exchange for the use of his mobile phone so he can contact his lost family in Belgium. Cosimo leaves Alioune unsupervised at the top of stage and the opportunity to reach and grab Cosimo’s mobile phone is too tempting to pass up. Alioune falls from the stage to the horror of Cosimo, Nicole and the distraught Paolo. Refusing to take the mangled Alioune to the hospital, Paolo leaves him for dead among some burnt out caravans in an apparent wasteland on the outskirts of the city. It is a decision that tears the relationship between the three apart as each considers the moral implications of the disasterous accident. Cosimo and Nicole drift further apart as Nicole’s devotion to him wanes in light of Cosimo’s decision to support Paolo in not alerting the authorities of the accident. Paulo in turn is a nervous wreck at even the slightest mention of the event.
The spark that ignites Nicole’s unhappiness at the entire situation is when she finds letters wrote by Alioune to his love Aissa in his backpack. She cannot live with her actions and her anger with Cosimo spills over one night at a concert when he flirts with another girl. Nicole starts a fight and cuts her hand, which leads to Cosimo taking her to the hospital. On their way out they see Alioune unconscious in a hospital bed. Amato then spirals the story into a thrilling series of events that explore the complexities of love, morality and the highs and lows of human nature. At times grippingly emotional, we follow Cosimo and Nicole as they search for the connection they once shared before the accident. In turn, each of the lovers (unsure of their own feelings for the other) seeks out answers from within themselves, answers that will allow them to forgive their own actions and move on towards the future.
The film comes to a bittersweet end as we are left with a much-changed Cosimo and Nicole visiting the family of Alioune in Belgium. Both are cautious with each other at first, but before long they are locked in a passionate embrace on the dance floor as the exotic music beats uncontrollably around them, echoing times past. An accomplished, entertaining second feature Cosimo and Nicole is a determined, engaging drama that has much to say about young people in today’s societies rife with political disilluisonment and immigration issues. Despite losing its way at times, the performances of Clara Ponsot and in particular Riccardo Scamarcio as Cosimo stand the film in good steed alongside Amato’s creative direction. Physical, fiery and intense, Cosimo and Nicole is well worthy of commercial attention.
Ben Haller, 2013
The Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2013 runs in Melbourne until 27th October – http://www.italianfilmfestival.com.au