‘Tommaso’: Film Review | Venice 2016

Actor Kim Rossi Stuart stars in and directs a wry rom-com co-starring Jasmine Trinca, Cristiana Capotondi and Camilla Diana.

Tommaso, the second feature directed by popular Italian star Kim Rossi Stuart, who also fills the title role, teases the audience into guessing whether they’re watching his autobiography. The story about an actor who wants to write and direct a film but has writer’s block, while being too neurotic and self-centered to stay in a relationship, smacks of Nanni Moretti territory but doesn’t go far enough in its self-analysis and frankly, isn’t very funny or incisive. On the plus side, there is a bottom-line feeling of honesty to the screenplay that should please his numerous fans, while the tasteful nudity on view generates a certain amount of prurient interest as Tommaso blithely runs through three beautiful partners. How far it can stray outside Italy is a question.

The film’s poster apes the famous “What’s on a man’s mind?” drawing showing a naked woman as part of Freud’s face. Here it is Tommaso’s face. Women without clothes are a major fantasy and he sees them everywhere, even riding on the subway beside him. Even store mannequins set off his hormones. The only woman he has no sexual interest in is his lovely companion Chiara, played with a look of understandable unhappiness by Jasmine Trinca. When he manipulates her into leaving him, he sees a heady future of freedom stretching out before his eyes. But a year later, he has neither found much action nor made any headway on the screenplay he’s supposed to be writing.

The Bottom Line

A lightweight tale of lust and immaturity.

It certainly stretches the imagination to suppose any Italian male as hot as Rossi Stuart would have trouble finding a date. But enter the second girlfriend, Federica (the fine Cristiana Capotondi, a bit underused here), who starts out as a name in his address book and ends up moving in. As he explains to his psychologist (a humorously over-accommodating Renato Scarpa), he likes her but is put off by the way her hair curls. Any excuse is good to split up, which they do in a scene that finally allows Capotondi to express herself vehemently.

By now the viewer has little more regard for Tommaso than his ex-girlfriends do, and he has no compensating virtues or talents to offset his increasingly neurotic behavior. It’s a pleasure, then, to find the third woman, the sassy, sexy young country waitress Sonia (Camilla Diana), taking him down a notch. As street smart and down to earth as he is in the clouds, she withholds her favors while playing him off against her regular boyfriend.

In many ways, Tommaso seems like a grown-up version of Tommi, the 11-year-old protag of Rossi Stuart’s well-liked directing debut Anche libero va bene, which showed a boy learning to navigate his parents’ emotional problems. Here, too, a partly estranged mother and never-seen father play a negative role. Like the many films made by Nanni Moretti featuring his alter ego Michele Apicella, Tommaso may be seen and heard from again if Rossi Stuart’s fans dig this effort.

The film is nicely edited by Marco Spoletini, who doesn’t linger on women or scenes longer than is desirable. In the meantime, the makeup department races Tommaso through a gamut of looks and styles, haircuts and beards, all of which look great on him.

Production companies: Palomar in association with Rai Cinema
Cast: Kim Rossi Stuart, Cristiana Capotondi, Camilla Diana, Jasmine Trinca, Dagmar Lassander, Serra Ylmaz, Edoardo Pesce, Renato Scarpa

Director, screenwriter: Kim Rossi Stuart
Producer: Carlo Degli Esposti
Executive producer: Patrizia Massa
Director of photography: Gian Filippo Corticelli
Production designer: Alessandra Mura
Costume designer: Alessandro Lai
Editor: Marco Spoletini
Music: Ratchev & Carratello
Venue: Venice Film Festival (out of competition)
93 minutes