Directed by: Ermanno Olmi
Starring: Loredana Detto, Sandro Panseri, Mara Revel, Guido Spadea, Tullio Kezich
By the time Ermanno Olmi made Il Posto in 1961, the Italian neo-realist movement (born more of circumstance than a desire to change film) was pretty much a thing of the past. His choice of making a film more or less in that style, however, seems more grounded in his work as a documentarian than an adherence to the neo-realists. And his rather charming little movie sometimes feels like it owes as much to the burgeoning French New Wave than anyhing else. The story is simple. It charts the course of a young man, Domenico Cantoni (Sandro Panseri), leaving his rural home to go to the city (Milan) and secure a position (presumably for life) with a large company. That’s it. The film simply recounts that experience — and explores just what it might mean to become swallowed up by this kind of corporate “family.” In many ways, it’s a downbeat story. Most of the scenes paint a dreary picture of settling into this kind of life. The ending is particularly disconcerting, but there are so many flashes of humanity that it stops short of being a total downer — even the grim New Year’s Eve party that climaxes the film is not devoid of a sense of something human beneath the inhuman surface.
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Il Posto Friday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District, upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
In Brief: Documentarian Ermanno Olmi’s second feature film, Il Posto, finds the director in an unsurprising neo-realist mode — with some notable embellishments—with this slice of life drama about a young man (Sandro Paserni) taking on a job that he expects to have for life with a big company. The observations on company life are sharp without being easy generalizations. Olmi’s very appealing nonprofessional cast convey much even while saying little. Shy of greatness, but something of an overlooked little gem.