By Mónica Delgado
We’re in the eighties, and the film opening talks about a pubescent kid, of red curls that seems very much like Tadzio of Visconti’s Death on Venice, and who appears singing under the influence of his inspiration figures: David Bowie, Lou Reed and other icons of rock in posters glued to the wall of his secret corner. What we know at the beginning is that this child is living a double life in his fourteen years that seem like twelve, and that suffers under the oppression of a castrating and solemn father. The start of Italian filmmaker Sebastiano Riso’s Darker than midnight, that works inside the plot as a clue, recreates part of the adolescence and sexual life of the Italian drag queen Fuxia, which is portrayed by the young Davide Capone, in a risky and somewhat melodramatic role.
Riso inhabits his film through an special nightly imaginary, determined by a corner of gays and transvestites for sale, the supermarket where robberies happen, the park where they sleep, since this adolescent abandons his house to search for a learning of his sexuality, through a surrounding of procurers and different homeless people. The tale also turns into a physical gaze to the character, centered overall in her red hair and in his lost and recovery as a symbol of freedom. However, this design by Davide (that I guess seeks to be faithful to the real drag queen story) shows some condescendence even in the melodramatic moments (there’s a blind suffering mother in the story) achieving to sabotage the good moments that still remain on the film.
Despite the intention of homage or cult towards this Italian night character, Riso doesn’t achieves a solid actor direction, especially since some situations seem quite staged; meaning that, more than a flaw with the script, Davide overlooks that aspect focusing in the plot’s rout, or in dialogues and situation that somewhat fails. I’m also sorry that this is the opener of the Critic’s Week, which reflects an inexplicable and flexible value criteria.
Original Title: Più Buio di mezzanotte
Director: Sebastiano Riso
Cast: Davide Capone, Micaela Ramazzotti, Vincenzo Amato, Pippo Delbono, Lucia Sardo.