I Am Alive, 2008

Vacillating between opaque social commentary on the inequity of conditional employment and idiosyncratic dark comedy, screenwriters Dino Gentili and Filippo Gentili’s directorial debut, I Am Alive chronicles a day in the life of underemployed day laborer, Rocco (Massimo De Santis) who, faced with a stack of unpaid bills and mounting debt from his girlfriend’s free-spending habits, agrees to take on an odd job from a disreputable businessman, Marco Resti (Giorgio Colangeli) to watch over his recently deceased daughter’s body for the night in the empty family villa – having purportedly succumbed to a long illness earlier that day – while he makes arrangements for her funeral in the morning. At first, the film hews towards neorealism in Rocco’s seeming redemption through work, evolving from desperate (and implicitly suicidal), unemployed worker to one determined to fulfill his obligatory vigil at all cost, making scattered home repairs to help pass the idle hours. However, the parade of eccentric visitors soon neuters the tone to something more akin to a comedy of errors – an unreliable co-worker, Gianni (Marcello Mazzarella) who leaves his post to go carousing, a playboy son, Adriano (Guido Caprino) who takes advantage of his father’s absence to bring his friends home for a drug-fueled party, a former gardener, Vlad (Vlad Alexandru Toma) who has returned in order to force a resolution to the long-standing feud with his erstwhile employer – creating an uncohesive, all-encompassing slice-of-life portrait that, like its aimless protagonist, seems destined to sink in the gravity of self-inflicted, assumed roles, foundering without direction.

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