The Consequences of Love (2004) : Movie Review

The Consequences of Love (Le conseguenze dell'amore)

Language - Italian
Genre - Crime, Romance
**ing - Toni Servillo, Olivia Magnani and Adriano Giannini
Release - 2004

Titta Di Girolamo is an immaculately dressed, middle-aged loner whose daily activities are as mundane as it goes. He gets dressed up in the morning, goes to the lobby to have coffee and breakfast and indulges himself in chess puzzles appearing in the daily newspaper. Any greetings thrown in his direction is met with a disapproving stare, including that of the young and beautiful bartender Sofia (Olivia Magnani), even though he finds herself attracted to her. He observes her everyday as she leaves the hotel to get into a car, greeted by a different man after every few days. He calls his family back in Italy regularly, but his wife and the children seem to consider it an annoyance and show a complete lack of concern to his stae of affairs. He also indulges hiself in a card game Grabber with fellow residents of the hotel, including a formerly aristocratic but now bankrupt elderly couple who once used to own the hotel. The husband is unwilling to let go of his 'spectacular' past and wishes to reclaim their erstwhile lifestyle through the winnings from the card game.

  Staying in the same hotel in Switzerland for eight years, he is an intriguing character who evokes suspicion amongst the staff as to his profession and background. But he pays the bills on time every month, and it's all that the manager cares for, or as he puts it - "One of the servies we offer is discretion". One of the suspicious activities that Titta indulges in is receiving a large black suitcase full of money that he deposits in a no-questions asked Swiss bank, after getting it counted by hand from the bank staff.

He is a man of fastidious routine including a dose of heroine that he self-administers every Wednesday morning. The Writer and Director Paolo Sorrentino presents much of the first half in dream-like sequences with an interesting array of background music. The technical mastery and the stylish presentation vowed the audience at Cannes, winning The Consequences of Love a Palme d'Or nomination. Sorrentino has an excellent support in Toni Servillo, who as Titta Di Girolamo seems to have an amazing presence on the screen and single-handedly carries the intrigue and mystery of the entire film with the most subtle of changes to his stead-fast stoic expression. Toni's award winning performance reminded me of Ulrich Mühe's performance as a East German Satsi agent in the acclaimed German film The Lives of Others. Rarely does a performance does so much with so little.
As the movie progresses, I found myself arrested in the routines of Titta, but earnestly looking for clues and signs to help unravel the mystery. It eventually happens when Sofia, the beautiful bartender who's been greeting Titta for 2 years without any response, finally vents her frustration to him. He decides to leave his corner sofa and sit at the bar stool.  In his words, it's the most dangerous thing he has done in the last 10 years. This coincides with him getting robbed by a couple of mafia men in his hotel room. In one clean swoop, we are made aware of all the intricate details behind the mystery. But it's also a strong indication of Sorrentino's vision for the movie. It's not about the mystery but the man who seems to be condemned to eternal damnation, confined to the prison of his circumstances without absolution.

  The Consequences of love is a surreal and fascinating departure from the raucous sugar-coated comedies, involving large families, that the Italians are generally known to offer. For a genuine appreciation for this work of art, you just need to let go of your expectations and allow yourself to be part of this seductively immersive experience.