After Midnight

(Dopo Mezzanotte)

After Midnight is writer/director Davide Ferrario's (La Strade di Genova, La Rabbia) ode to everybody who loves cinema. Not movies, but cinema. It's a love story set in the grand Mole Antonelliana, Turin's Museum of Cinema, a huge, beautiful building housing artifacts from filmdom's past as well as silent film treasures. Martino (Giorgio Pasotti, The Last Kiss, St. Paul) is one of these cinephiles. He is extremely shy around people, preferring the company of celluloid. He is the night watchman at the Antonelliana, where he enjoys silent films after doing his rounds. Martino is like a character from an old silent film. He speaks very little, preferring to act out his emotions in his few interactions with people.

Everything changes when Amanda (Francesca Inaudi) literally runs into his life. Amanda is hiding from the police after an unfortunate incident at work. Martino agrees to let her stay with him; he has his own room at the top of the museum. Amanda also has a boyfriend, Angel (Fabio Troiano, Santa Maradona). Angel is a tough guy who steals cars for a living. He is ruggedly handsome, has a wandering eye for other women, and seems to value his relationship with Amanda more for the sex than anything else. And of course, while Amanda realizes this, she still loves Martino.

Ferrario's film is cute but slight. Everything hearkens back to a time when things were simpler, say, like in a silent film. Instead of title cards, Ferrario has a narrator (Silvio Orlando, The Son's Room, The Soul's Place). Martino is the polar opposite of Angel, which is probably why she falls in love with him over the course of a few days. The best example of this is in all the previews. It's late at night, and all three are watching a silent film in the Antonelliana. Ferrario pans the camera slowly across the three actors. First up is Martino, completely enraptured with what is on screen. The camera shifts to Amanda, looking at Martino. She turns her head and the camera pans to Angel, fast asleep. Of course, as Amanda begins to ignore Angel, he realizes his feelings towards her, and decides he wants her, setting up the love triangle.

This is probably one of the sweetest triangles in recent memory. Ferrario makes everything come across as wistful rather than spiteful. And the actors are all well suited towards their roles. Martino has a nice expressive face with large eyes, and the movies he watches frequently mimic or allude to what is happening in the film. Inaudi is extremely attractive in a very tomboyish way (it's probably the haircut), and Angel exudes toughness, and just a bit of patheticness later in the film. After Midnight is nice enough to make one smile, but is not substantial enough to be memorable.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 29 minutes, Italian with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains language, nudity, and some sexual situations, an easy R.

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