I’ve never really considered the genre of autobiographical film before. Some part of me just says to the whole thing, “Who is the director to say that his own thoughts and feelings are important enough to warrant a film made about them?” Part of this question applies to Nanni Moretti’s Caro Diario; why is this worth watching, and is it just a self-indulgent fulfillment for the director? I might be poised to ask these questions a little more fiercely, if it weren’t for the fact that Nanni Moretti, who also stars in the film as himself, is just so damn likable. Really, I don’t know what about him makes it so, but he just seems like a delightful guy to be around. Caro Diario, translated into ‘Dear Diary’, is exactly what it says on the tin; a transliteration of diary entries of Moretti. My preceding questions aside, one might still wonder what it is about this film that makes it worth seeing. Well, there isn’t any real “must see” qualities about this one, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not fun to watch.
Caro Diario is divided into three sections. The first is all about Moretti traveling on his Vespa scooter, interspersed with his off-the-top-of-his-head thoughts and inner dialogue, of which he often stops and talks to random people about, as if they have any idea what he means. The second is all about his island travels, meeting with an old friend who lives there, and their inability to get anything substantial done for various reasons. The third is a story of Moretti’s attempts to diagnose a burning itch in his arms and legs, going from doctor to doctor, before a combination of fortuitous circumstances provides him the answer. What’s so likable about the film is the sense of whimsical fantasy that pervades throughout, a feeling of light-heartedness helped along by the playful and impish piano score. It’s as if the whole film is just a fanciful fictitious account of the dream-like state of Moretti’s diary, which it’s pretty much exactly that. So much so, that there’s really nothing else to be said about the film; that concise summary or explanation pretty much nails it to a T.
Once again, there is little to be said about the technicals or the bits and pieces that make up this one; they’re good, but average – nothing outstanding. So, since that part of it is otherwise unremarkable, what makes this a must see? Pretty much the only thing I could come up with, was that I’ve never really seen a film like this before. There are a lot, a LOT, of films out there that are at least semi-autobiographical, but they do so using fiction as a metaphor for the real life events. This is a direct autobiography on film, albeit a partial one, and something like this is much more rare. While I was watching it, I found myself enjoying it, and not at all concerned that it was egotistical or conceited or anything like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, because it wasn’t. That’s a fine line to toe, but Moretti is clearly on the right side of it, which can be a difficult quality of a film to pinpoint, both as a viewer and as a maker of films. But this was just too cheerful for me to dislike it, pretty much in any way. I don’t know if I’d recommend this to anyone, but at the same time, if I did, I’d feel pretty confident those people wouldn’t have too bad of a time with it.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10