If love means total dedication and unconditional emotional support, what happens when drug addiction risks altering any trace of humanity in the soul of the person you care about? Incisive and tender at the same time, ‘Panni Sporchi‘ sheds light on the dilemma trying to identify that fragile boundary between love and (self-)destruction. Or rather, the impossibility of truly understanding the extent to which involvement or non-involvement in the life of a loved one can compromise the normality of a healthy relationship. Starting from the family bond between a young drug addict and her aunt, the short film illustrates a crisis that culminates in a desperate gesture. Faced with a story like this, it’s hard not to think of Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour‘, where the male character’s final act can be as shocking as it is human. It is precisely this uncertainty of discerning devotion from total renunciation that makes Riccardo Chiarini’s short film a powerful and delicate experience, open to the most contradictory debates.


When her niece seems to be losing touch with reality due to lack of a dose, a woman must act quickly. But how can she save her when the only solution seems to bring them both closer to self-destruction?


On a narrative level, it’s admirable what the director does with a minimum of resources, while portraying an extremely complex female character whose inner conflict vibrates even in the absence of consistent dialogue. Despite limited details pertaining to the larger background of the relationship between the two, the script and the work of the actresses condense a compelling psychological depth, while the aesthetics of the film material induce a heightened state of degradation. Riccardo Chiarini proves a professional’s intuition, aware that the human force of a story is far more important than any ornament or narrative strategy that might compromise authenticity. It’s a lesson he learned from the masters of neorealism or the new “peripheral” waves descending from this tradition, capturing with honest austerity the everyday misery of those “anonymous” individuals struggling for their own normality. Without breaking out of the patterns of a seemingly “poor” cinematic discourse, ‘Panni Sporchi’ is certainly an impressive short film about the limits (but also the immensity) of love, tolerance, and humanity.


For the sincerity and suggestiveness with which it manages, with minimal resources, to portray a scenario of humanity in crisis, ‘Panni Sporchi’ was awarded with the 2nd Film of the Month distinction in the February 2024 edition of TMFF.