April (1998)

A delightful comical romp by Moretti, who channels both the personal and the political in this sly ‘documentary’ masquerading as a drama about a filmmaker-turned-father having an existential crisis.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,484

Dir. Nanni Moretti
1998 | Italy | Biography/Comedy | 75 min | 1.66:1 | Italian, English & French
Not rated – likely to be PG13

Cast: Nanni Moretti, Silvio Orlando, Silvia Nono
Nanni Moretti takes another look at the ebbs and flows of his life in April 1996, as he becomes a father for the first time and seems unable to focus on his documentary about the upcoming national elections.
Nom. for Palme d’Or (Cannes)
Source: Tandem Distribution

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Filmmaking; Parenthood; Politics
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: MUBI
Spoilers: No

I enjoyed this charming little film by Nanni Moretti, which runs at just 75 minutes, as it chronicles a filmmaker who is about to become a father, while the dire state of politics in Italy serves as a backdrop. 

Moretti plays ‘himself’, but how autobiographical the film is will depend on whether you see his performance as authentic or a caricature.  Or better still, it is a formless, ambiguous mix of both. 

Whatever the case is, April is full of vigour and there is nary a dull moment with Moretti’s easily excitable—if also agitable—personality expressing all manner of wit, sarcasm and cynicism. 

“I’ll have to explain to him that his Dad won’t have time to fix TV sets because he’ll have to fix Italy.”

Some viewers may find him annoying though, but look past all the hysterics, and you may find a work of such slyness that it is impossible to know what he might be thinking or doing next. While a new baby is coming along, Moretti is hoping to get production started on a period musical. 

Much of the comedy comes into play through distractions—Moretti turns his camera to his wife and baby instead; and if the personal isn’t enough to keep one occupied, the director becomes compelled to capture political rallies leading up to a major election in a bid to show the hypocrisies of Italian politics. 

In a severe case of fickle-mindedness masking an existential crisis, Moretti must figure out what he really wants to do or achieve.  As such, April largely succeeds in creating a cinematic fence around a chaotic mind—the artist is comfortably boxed in, yet waiting to burst out. 

Grade: B+



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