Reality is the latest project from Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone. It is about Luciano, an ordinary man who auditions for Grande Fratello, which is the Italian version of Big Brother. Luciano is a fishmonger and his hopes of becoming a contestant in the reality TV show has come to naught when he doesn’t hear back from the staff.
He decides to sneak inside the set of the show and it looks like none of the contestants notice him. Luciano is mesmerized by the contestants, who are busy splashing around the pool. He then sits on a sunbed in a courtyard and he can’t stop laughing. The movie ends with Luciano still giggling by himself.
Matteo Garrone is known as the director of Gomorrah, the 2008 crime drama about an Italian syndicate. Reality is different. It is a dark comedy about people’s infatuation with instant popularity and fortune. Gomorrah was a violent story whereas Reality is a whimsical tale of an ordinary man and his misguided sense of destiny.
Garrone has won the Grand Prix at Cannes for both Gomorrah and Reality. He established himself as one of the most versatile directors today. He is compared with the likes of other Italian masters while he names Polanski and Pirandello as his influences.
Garrone’s movies feature the grotesques and strange caught in extreme circumstances that involve murder and chaos. Reality is different in a way because it is a fairytale. It benefited from the score by Alexandre Desplat and production design by Paolo Bonifini. Aniello Arena also did a fine job as the lead of the movie.
Arena is a charismatic actor and plays Luciano in Reality. Off-screen, he is serving a life sentence due to his involvement in a mob hit in 1991. The director saw Arena with a prison company at a theater festival and has since wanted to cast him in a movie. Garrone arranged the schedule so that Arena can film during the day and spend his nights in jail.