I had no idea who Paolo Sorrentino was before watching this film. Rest assured, I sure as hell know now. While not his debut feature, The Consequences of Love is the one that brought Sorrentino breakout status, and watching the film, it is easy to see why; this is one of the most stylish films I think I’ve ever seen from the turn of the millennium. A truly modern day cinematic masterpiece, in just about every way the term modern can be taken, The Consequences of Love is dramatic, unconventional, and breathtaking to the senses, both visual and audio. It’s not an easy watch, but it is a rewarding one.
I will say, in a point against the film and against those who would try to convince others to see it, the film starts out incredibly blasé in terms of plot and story development. It starts with a meager introduction of our main character, Titta Di Girolamo, and then simply follows him as he essentially does nothing, sitting in a coffee shop doing the newspaper crosswords, playing cards with an elderly couple (who have their own story alongside his), and generally people watching. He is a loner, and not mildly antisocial, initially dismissing the attempts at interaction initiated by those around him, including one of the waitresses at the coffee shop he frequents. It is only as the film goes on that the circumstances of his current way of living become apparent; why he lives the way he does, his past, and how it is inevitably catching up to him. I haven’t said anything about the actual circumstances of Titta’s life, mostly as an incentive to get you to watch the film, because, as I found out, it is definitely worth watching, if not for the story or its development, then for the visuals of the film itself. It opens with one of the most arresting opening shots I think I’ve ever seen, and from there, turns into a bevy of camera shots and movements that other films are either too ignorant or too fearful to even try and cram into their running time. My god, does this film have tracking shots; soooooo many tracking shots. The camera was so incredibly ambulatory that it was almost disorienting; damn near every other shot has the camera moving in some way, and it was all the more impressive that every one of them worked and was fully professional. Sorrentino and his cinematographer Luca Bigazzi can only be described as wizards of the camera, and I may even actively look for other films by them (like this year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, The Great Beauty) to treat myself anew. Aside from the visuals, just about everything technical in this film works to perfection, from the acting by Toni Servillo to the electronic musical score, a genre to which I’ve always taken to very much, and thus the film was quite a sensory treat for me especially.
I didn’t know what to expect out of this one, so to get all that I ended up getting was a tremendous reward, as well as an exceptional feeling. If I were to divide my list of the best cinematography to come from the Book into classic and modern film categories, I have little doubt that The Consequences of Love would top the modern category; it’s that good. That said, the story was pretty much told backwards, keeping the past and backstory of the main character until the end of the film, and while it was unconventional, it made the first half of the film somewhat questionable as to whether or not the film as a whole would be worth it. For me, it ended up being worth it, but I am fully aware others will not share my perceptions, and that is largely why the film is getting the rating it is, as opposed to something higher. I have a funny feeling the editors of the list were a little premature in adding a Paolo Sorrentino film, what with The Great Beauty winning at the Oscars this year; a film that reunites the director with his cinematographer and lead actor. Frankly, I’m a little surprised they took this long to add this film on there, but it turned out to be very much worth the wait.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10