During a panel discussion at Deadline’s Contenders Film: New York event, Martone explained the connection between adapting Elena Ferrante’s first novel L’amore molesto and Ermanno Rea’s book Nostalgia for the big screen.
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“In L’amore molesto we followed this woman,” Martone said. “We walk alongside her, and we enter into her past. In Nostalgia, something similar happens. You have a man, and we walk with him and we enter into his past.”
Nostalgia, which premiered this year at the Cannes Film Festival, follows Felice Lasco, played by Pierfrancesco Favino, who, after living 40 years abroad, returns to Naples and rediscovers places and codes of the city, facing a past that eats him away. Last month Breaking, Glass Pictures acquired North American rights to Nostalgia, which is Italy’s entry for the International Feature Oscar.
Rea’s book appealed to Martone for multiple reasons.
“It’s a mysterious book,” he said. “Maybe you can think of it as a mobster story because of course there is a criminal situation between Felice and another character, but that is just one level of the story. The sound of the story (was strong) and the character is not a hero.”
Martone co-wrote Nostalgia with Ippolita Di Majo, who also found the book intriguingly complex.
“I was also very impressed by the human side of Felice,” said Di Majo onstage. “(He is) somebody whose roots were torn. He had to go away by force and almost forgot where he came from. He forgot his language. So, this separation was violent. And then there’s a theme of going back in a nostalgic way. The other element that really impressed me in this character who’s a man, is his feminine side. There is the possibility of sweetness in him in the way he takes care of his mother. In terms of the care of a physical body in Italy, traditionally, that’s considered the job of a woman, whereas in this case, we see Felice taking that on, so his feminine side is very important.”
Nostalgia is Martone’s 10th feature film. Alongside Favino, the film stars Francesco Di Leva, Tommaso Ragno, Aurora Quattrocchi and Sofia Essaidi.
Check out the panel video above.
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