COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 55min (Italian with subtitles)

STARRING: Aniello Arena, Loredana Simioli

Reality bites: Arena (middle)

Why be poor and fitfully honest when you can cruise to Easy Street as a reality-TV star? When small-time Naples fishmonger Luciano (Arena) gets bitten big time by the Big Brother bug, he’s in his garrulous element, auditioning at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios with a galaxy of stars in his wide, guileless eyes.


In his mind, Luciano is already a contestant. But Lady Luck is a slippery fish, and seduced by visions of grandeur, he grows delusionally obsessed, convinced that reps for the show are secretly checking him out. His wife, Marie (Simioli), is driven to distraction as the man she no longer recognises banks their lives on a call that refuses to come.


If fame isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, a futile quest for it is more unsettling still. Director Matteo Garrone’s take on this is typically Italian, with abundant beating of breasts, but deranged fixations are no mere comedy of errors. In trading one grounded reality for the illusion of another, Luciano also trades invaluable peace of mind. Garrone’s closing, disquieting images throw every base off balance.