We are what we think. Or reality is only a subjective form of one’s own intellectual and emotional mechanics. This philosophical debate is an obsessive idea for many extraordinary filmmakers who, having set out to explore the complexity and paradoxes of the human mind, have succeeded in creating magnetic fictional universes in which the protagonists are a kind of guinea pig captive in the maze of their own imagination. Michele Di Rienzo attacks a similar approach in his short film, ‘Simmetria‘, somewhat following the principles of features such as ‘Shutter Island’ or ‘Inception’, in order to build a fascinating protagonist whose struggle to gain his own mental integrity is bounded between reality and fantasy. Faithful to a staggering dynamic cinema aesthetic for which sudden temporal transitions are an essential formula in the gradual epic tension, the director explores with the versatility and precision of a professional the inner conflicts of a protagonist faced with the threat of self-destruction, being unable to exorcise his own demons awaken by the violent intrusion of death in his family context. Mental alienation thus defines the hot core of this overwhelming project that oscillates between tenderness and visceral violence, in order to capture with the clarity and hardness of a diamond the multitude of more or less visible sides of the human being for whom reality and imagination are two worlds with an interchangeable consistency.
Despite the help of a specialist, Ludovico is unable to observe or accept the limits of the reality he lives in. But the truth is so slippery that the protagonist’s mind can no longer discern who his true friends are and who is trying to convince him of the fantasies he faces. Will the presence of the little girl who populates all his memories provide the answer he needs?
Constructed like an elliptical periplus, which synthesizes more than a decade of the protagonist’s tumultuous inner life, this short film has the narrative density of a feature that Michele Di Rienzo manages to sublimate into suggestive and striking images that are rendered following a permanent process of deceiving the spectators’ expectations. The fluctuation between the inside and the outside of the protagonist’s mind generates an empathetic and dizzying experience whereby the director sets out to avoid the general formula of a coherent narrative thread, precisely to capture the evanescence of the thoughts of an individual who has become a prisoner of their own illusions. Thus, without opting for a well-defined ending and without completely exhausting the psychological consistency of human conflicts depicted with the accuracy of a professional director, ‘Simmetria’ defines an alert and provocative cinematic experience about the fragility of the human mind and about the relativity of the boundaries that our own sensitivity sets between reality and nightmare.
For the visionary force with which the director captures the reality’s inconsistency of those deprived of their own emotional integrity and for the versatility with which he melts in an alert and deceptive cinematic pattern space-time transitions where the boundary between reality and fiction is broken, ‘Simmetria’ was awarded with the Film of the Month distinction in the September 2019 edition of TMFF.