What a good idea! To celebrate summer, here comes an Italian film, both cult and poorly known by the new generation: “Caro Diario”, by Nanni Moretti…
One thousand nine hundred ninety-three. “Caro Diario» (“Diary”) lands on screens around the world, and Nanni Moretti doesn’t know he’s releasing a really big movie. He also doesn’t know he’s a great director – although he probably secretly hopes so. His Palme d’Or is still a long way off (“The son’s room», 2001), just like his best films to date («Mia Madre», 2015, or the documentary on the relationship between Chile and Italy, «Santiago, Italy», 2018).
What he offers us here hangs on a thread. And for good reason: when he begins to film himself whirling around the districts of Rome on his Vespa, he thinks of starting a simple short documentary film. A friend told him that an area of Rome (Spinaceto) was absolutely not worth seeing and, as an eternal lover of the Eternal City, he wants to go and see it with his own eyes. He embarks his chief op in the adventure – and in an old méhari – and sails the galley. No sound: a simple voice-over will do, where he mixes his inner thoughts, his opinions on the world, on cinema, the meaning of life, and… Rome, of course.
When he showed the footage a few weeks later to a first audience, Moretti brought his own record player, and play the “Koln Concert” by Keith Jarrett live. The sauce takes. “Caro Diario” is being born…
Aeolian Islands and the Doctors’ Waltz
The Italian director will add several layers to feed his mille-feuille, in three parts. The second chapter of the film takes us to the Aeolian Islands. Moretti puts himself in the abyss: he shows a groping director around a film project (himself in the role of himself, of course), a film that would take place… on an island (where we are already as if by magic). This return to dreams, fiction, wanderings, is symbolized by an older friend, sworn enemy of television (today we would say “the screens”), and who, while documenting himself, will however sink into the most intense dependence – going so far as to ask American tourists to tell him the rest of“Love glory and beauty», whose new season is not yet broadcast in Italy…
Thanks to its position “embark with me on my scooter”, that is to say “in my life” and therefore “in my unconscious”, Moretti realizes this miracle of cinema, this cinema which delights us until the respondent.
The third part takes us even deeper to the edge between comedy and metaphysics: Moretti uses the cancer he was diagnosed with two years earlier, at 38. He goes from doctor to doctor, from treatment to treatment, from fantasy to fantasy, to better denounce, after Molière, the abuse of power and the false certainties – drowned in the middle of the good will of those who are on the side of science. An emotional yo-yo experience, which takes on a rather special taste, after our Covid years…
Caro Diario trailer VOSTFR 1993 VF VO Nanni Moretti subtitles french Journal Intime film
Little by little, the little documentary film therefore took on more depth, until you find yourself in official selection at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. On the Croisette, the rumor swells, and everyone talks about this little Italian film shot with next to nothing, and embellished with a brilliant soundtrack (in addition to Keith Jarrett, let us quote Khaled, Léonard Cohen or Brian Eno). On the night of the awards, Moretti receives the prize for directinglogically enough.
1993. “Caro Diario” (“Diary”) lands on screens all over the world, and Nanni Moretti does not know that he is in the process of releasing a very big film.
What makes the magic of the film, in addition to its themes, is of course its non-frontal approach. Thanks to its position “embark with me on my scooter”, that is to say “in my life” and therefore “in my unconscious”, Moretti realizes this miracle of cinema, this cinema which delights us to the intimate. This light, good-natured voice-over is truly captivating. Solemn certainly (when the Vespa arrives at this beach of Ostia where Pier Paolo Pasolini was assassinated), but never tearful, leaden, or lesson giver. And we begin to believe that this intelligence is our intelligence. This poetry, our poetry. Italy? Our. This film: our film.
“Caro Diario” (“Diary”)
Note from L’Echo:
“Tre piani” by Nanni Moretti: the difficulty of being a good father – 28 Minutes – ARTE
We want to thank the writer of this write-up for this outstanding content
“Caro Diario”: the return of the man to the Vespa