After Midnight

on November 03, 1989 by Kim Williamson
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As the film opens on a late Italian night, a young car thief (Fabio Troiano) is alone, slouched bleeding in front of Jaguar dealership. Voiceover (narration by Silvio Orlando) asks whether this "Angel of Falchera," as he's known, is dying, and what could have brought him to this fate. From that point through the climax, "Dopo Mezzanotte," being released stateside as "After Midnight," tells the story of three lovers. There's Angel; Martino (Giorgio Pasotti), a young night watchman who rarely speaks; and Amanda (Francesca Inaudi), a fast-food waitress who must hide out from the police after she splashes hot oil on her too-demanding boss (Andrea Romero). As it turns out, her hideout is the aerie-like apartment of Martino, a devotee of silent-film comedian Buster Keaton who works and lives at Turin's cinema museum in the huge Mole Antonelliana. All the more lucky for him: The shy Martino had long pined for Amanda from a distance. All the less lucky for Angel: Although a persistent womanizer, Angel has had Amanda as his one real girlfriend for ages, and, however caddish, his heart burns for her. As for Amanda, she doesn't know which way to turn, so she turns both ways.

"After Midnight" is a film told in blues -- the 2 a.m. near-black blues of the Turin sky, the almost-purple light blues of the predawn, the melancholic blues of troubled souls in love. And yet its moments often carry a charming enchantment. Filmmaker Davide Ferrario ("Guardami") makes ample use of the huge vaulted reaches and crazy-quilt corners of the Mole Antonelliana, and his clear fondness for his characters is infectious, adding to the film's appeal -- as does the lovely cinematography of Dante Cecchin. However, "After Midnight" is a story told casually, almost by itself, more than via a dramatic structure crafted by Ferrario. This fan of Keaton and of the early Francois Truffaut has his narrator say at movie's close, "Tales are dust flying through the wind that takes them where it wants." Though the film's whimsy is almost certain to touch them, some arthousegoers might wish for more substance and meaning. Like the time it references, "After Midnight" is captivating in its renegade freedom, but doesn't provide far-reaching vision. Starring Giorgio Pasotti, Francesca Inaudi and Fabio Troiano. Directed, written and produced by Davide Ferrario. An Avatar release. Comedy/Drama. Italian-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 89 min

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