Bruno Cariello,Donatella Finocchiaro,Gianni Cavina,Sami Frey,Sergio Castellitto
For forty years Marco Bellocchio has been the Italian cinema's reigning iconoclast, aiming his barbed skepticism at such sacred cows as the family (Fists in the Pocket), the church (My Mother's Smile), and the political left (China Is Near). In The Wedding Director, he peers into the looking-glass to produce a self-reflexive satire of the world of filmmaking.
Sergio Castellitto (Don't Move, Mostly Martha) plays Franco Elica, a dissolute movie director who slides into despair after being asked - to his horror - to make yet another version of Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed. Complicating matters is news that a looming sexual-harassment scandal is about to break. Hoping to avoid the scandal at all costs, Franco flees to Sicily where he hides out in a small village. There he meets a host of colorful characters: a man who makes his living shooting souvenir wedding films, a film director who is faking his own death to finally achieve the fame that has eluded him all his life, and the cultured nobleman Prince Ferdinando Gravina di Palagonia. The menacing Prince, a huge fan of Franco's movies, commissions the depraved filmmaker to shoot the wedding of his tempestuous daughter, Bona, with whom Elica quickly falls impulsively, idiotically, dangerously in love and whose wedding he becomes driven to sabotage at all costs.
Beneath the film's farcical surface (highlights include a wedding video reconceived as a nudity-laced thriller) is a scathing vision of a cinema in decline: Castellitto's seedy Elica is a comically diminished successor to Mastroianni's Guido in 8 1/2, just as Sami Frey's Prince is a frayed version of Burt Lancaster's Salina in The Leopard, and the video clips that punctuate the action are a pale shadow of the luminous cinematography that ennobled even the hoary potboilers of the celluloid age. As the cinema goes, so goes the nationThe Wedding Director is an implicit indictment of a moribund country (the film's key recurring line is in Italy, it is the dead who command) and a wake-up call for revitalization.