As a Morettiano, the hardest question you can ask me is: what is Nanni Moretti’s best film? The list is long, the memorable sequences would be too many, the lightning ideas innumerable, from I am self-sufficient a The Caiman. If, on the other hand, you ask me what his worst film is, I have no hesitation: the last one, Three floors, in cinemas these days. That the director’s intentions should be a return to the minimalism of Son’s room it’s pretty clear, but what came out of it is a kind of little bourgeois drama, a tragedy without catharsis, a film about the parent-child relationship that doesn’t slap you or even make you smile bitterly. Something that remains on the surface.
A film that is too conventional
The story comes from the novel of the same name by the Israeli writer Eshkol Nevo. The director takes her to Roma bene, the Prati district: it is there that the three-storey condominium rises where the destinies of a couple of judges (Moretti and Margherita Buy himself) are consumed, disappointed by their son who, when drunk, runs over a woman killing her ; a young man (Riccardo Scamarcio) who, bitten by the doubt that his daughter may have suffered sexual violence, ends up having a relationship with a minor; a young woman (Alba Rohrwacher) who, worn out by the absence of her husband, ends up talking to the crows. First sensation: this is too conventional a work to be worthily in Moretti’s filmography, one room that, in the nineties, would not have disfigured in the line of debate films of Rai 1 Women at the crossroads. In spite of the authorial intransigence of Here’s Bombo, of that “What are we in a film by Alberto Sordi?” that it was an attack on the heart of all conventions, of the memorable “No, the debate no!”.
An old movie
Second feeling: I’m not the only disappointed Morettian. Just take a tour in the room, on social media or in the columns of newspapers, just resume the reactions of the critics to the presentation in competition at Cannes 2021. We are a world out there to recognize that Three floors it is unable to effectively tell the world out there. Of course, Covid also took part, postponing the release for a year, making the film appear even older, surpassed in a certain sense what it tells. Politically outdated: we are here to discuss the Green Pass and Margherita Buy has to dodge the Molotov cocktails of a demonstration against migrants, as if Matteo Salvini were still at the Viminale. Stuff three years ago now. There is a generation that is divided between the mobilization for climate change and trap music, but Moretti does not intercept it: his boys strum the bass, get drunk and beat their parents as in the seventies, his teenagers are obsessed with discovery of sex like those of Pigs with wings. Where did the intuition of the intellectual who, with Palombella Rossa, had he anticipated the turning point of Bolognina? In conclusion: Three floors it’s an old film because Nanni seems to have aged. And the problem is not so much the registry, but the difficulty of getting in tune with the contemporary world.
A film without (self) irony
The greatest sin of Three floors, however, it is the sheer lack of (self) irony. Moretti, who had made a stylistic figure of gritted laughter (his first films almost looked like strips of the Peanuts), is no longer able to laugh at the ugliness of the world, much less at himself. Were he capable, this last of his could be a Robert Altman film. But no: he takes himself terribly seriously, locked up in a kind of cosmic pessimism that filters out any contact with the outside world. So, however, you are condemned to prose: you forget poetry. The only “morettism” that it grants us is the illegal tango scene which incidentally, as a phenomenon, is a fashion of five or six years ago, even that quite outdated stuff, but so be it. Nobody here is angry with Nanni: it is that the expectations, when he comes out to the cinema, are always very high and he, at least since the days of Caiman, seems to have lost its touch. Unlike Nanni, however, we do not see everything black: the Roman director is already working on the new film, The Sun of the Future, whose release is scheduled for 2022. The hope is that it’s better than Three floors. Indeed: more than a hope, it is a certainty.