Watching Libero this afternoon served to remind me that Italians do film exceedingly well. Better than fashion, food, and football; film is more often than not shown with the inherent ability to convey that heat-seeking gem of all arts: clean emotion. Each of the performances of the four main family members: Kim Rossi Stuart, Barbara Bobulova, Alessandro Morace, and Marta Nobill, are first rate - but none more so than the young boy, Tommi, played by Morace. This boy consistently expresses suspicion, fear, and suppression.

Tommi and his sister, Viola, live with their single father, volatile cameraman Rossi Stuart, who pushes his son to swim competitively, whilst Tommi hankers after football. There is a thread, a strong one, of parental/child sexual relations that teeter on the precipice of appropriateness - like the English title of the film (along the ridge). Their mother seems to be a narcissistic sex and love addict who has on more than one ocassion walked out for other men - leaving the children with an angrier, financially challenged father each time. Tommi seeks some solace in the neighbouring apartment of a richer family, whose own relations are undoubtedly oiled by a lack of financial woes that Tommi's family has to face - as well as fewer obvious dysfunctions.

Renato treats his son badly compared to how he treats his sexualised daughter, hinting at the sexualised economy. But at the heart of this gem is an honest love. It builds in complexity and emotion, until I'm crying from the pit of my stomach, much in the same way that another two great Italian classics - Il Postino, and Cinema Paradise - always achieve. Hollywood and even plenty of US indie films fail to do that to me, which I can only put down to the good, clean, honest emotion that is so expertly conveyed. There is no moralising, no manipulation. No telling. Just showing.


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