That Paul Genoese was done with the sedate comedies, everyone had known that since the days of Perfect Strangers. Still, it was hard to imagine a twist as dark as The First Day of My Life. The director’s new film is coming to theaters January 26th, actually tackles a number of issues head-on, each more burning and complex than the other. The first is that of Suicide (and we’ve said it all), closely followed by various existential questions like “What is happiness?” and “Why is it worth living in?” or even “can we save ourselves?”. All flavored with a copious dose of the pain of life, without (fortunately) the cotè di melò to which much of Italian cinema has accustomed us. In fact, the story revolves around four people who, for different reasons, decided to take their own lives. Each of them is presented with a man (also called a “thing”), that is, an unidentified person, who asks for seven days. At the end of the week, the suicidal can decide whether to confirm (ie kill themselves) the choice they made on the last day of their lives, or change it and make the first choice of their new life (hence the title). For those wondering, yes, the film is inspired by the book of the same name Paul Genoese.
“The germ of this story came after I saw the documentary The Bridge: The Director Eric Stahl placed a camera on the Golden Gate Bridge, filming all suicides committed there. Then he went to interview those who had survived the jump into nothing, and everyone said they regretted those 7 seconds that fell into nothing,” he tells the press presentation Paul Genoese, “These seven seconds became the seven days in my film.” The stakes are obviously very high, so much so that the director himself admits to “having rewritten the script a thousand times and throwing away entire chapters: the risk of becoming banal, superficial or superfluous is always very high when it comes to it meaning of life. However, measuring yourself against something that takes us out of our comfort zone is a necessary incentive to work well.”
Photo courtesy of MARIA MARIN
The cast is also top-class: in the role of the man there is it Tony Servilowhile in which of the four suicides is an immaculate one Valerio Mastandreaone Buy a margarita absolutely partially as well as just right Sara Serraiocco. The little one comes full circle Gabriel Christine. We don’t reveal any details about their characters because part of the fun of the film is just tiptoeing into their lives. “We said to ourselves from the start: Be careful not to use rhetoric,” he comments Mastandrea, “We were moved by humility, that is, the desire to respect the inexplicable sense of loss that a man may encounter in his life. It seems to me that we succeeded.” We also report on the cameos of Victoria Puccini and Pillow Linen.
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Paolo Genovese repeats Mastandrea, according to which the first day of my life “is different from the place: this story has a more realistic structure”. In a way, however, it could be “complementary to Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life: there the angel of death shows the protagonist the meaning of his birth, here he is instead shown what her future could have been. However, I did it.” I don’t want to give recipes or easy solutions, if anything, I have shown that the group and social relationships can make the difference: together the pain is shared and less unbearable”.
As for the outcome, well, it’s certainly one of those thought-provoking stories (which is no small feat these days). As you exit the room, you will have between 3,000 and 4,000 existential questions, and each will be moved during the vision for a different reason or scene. In fact, the film manages to touch many chords and does a good job of showing the different faces of life’s evil. Pain is passed under the camera’s scanner with surgical and authentic rigor, less hope. Not that it doesn’t exist, quite the opposite. But it’s just a vague feeling. Partly imprecise. As if it were difficult to really pull the strings, taking refuge in an ending that, if it can’t be defined as open-ended, lends itself to multiple readings. Furthermore, in a film aimed at questioning the meaning of life, the entire transcendental and spiritual dimension is not included: even the angel of death simply becomes a “thing”. The protagonists’ existential disagreement – to stay or give up – sinks entirely to the mortal level, between nostalgia for the pleasures of life (including coffee) and potential regrets for a future they may never enjoy. Too bad, because it would have been enough to dig a little more under the surface…