Tag Archives: Edoardo Pesce

Overstayed Welcome

The Guest Room

by Tori Hanes

Moody, eerie, and deftly grounded with stellar performances, The Guest Room by director Stefano Lodovichi delights in uneasy chaos. Following the arrival of a gregariously unusual guest (Guido Caprino), divorced Stella (Camilla Filippi) and her estranged spouse Sandro (Edoardo Pesce) balance the visit with their familial issues. 

The narrative, design, and dialogue take an orbital back seat to the shining star of the three lead actors. Caprino plays his all-encompassingly chilling and charming stranger with incredible poise. Filippi rips sympathy and disgust from audiences’ chests. Meanwhile, Pesce embodies the complexities of estrangement. Lodovichi’s talent at drawing a fully realized performance from his actors within their first moments on screen is delightfully wrenching.

Often, even for the most supposedly refined film viewers amongst us, foreign films can leave a gap in performance recognition for American audiences. The Guest Room does not allow for that gap. The marriage between written word and actors is among the most powerful foreign film experiences a viewer can have.

The film’s primary issue comes from its obvious change of tonal heart. It does well to establish itself quickly and efficiently as a grounded, eerily dark drama. Its initial turn into horror remains grounded. As the plot builds, a need for realistic reasoning behind the inevitable twist reaches a fever pitch. It’s here we take a sharp turn into a more fantastical, almost supernatural element, leaving audiences reeling from genre whiplash. This, unfortunately, muddies the ever-important twist and resolution.

Overall, The Guest Room’s mind-bending performances and uneasy plot make for a whirling 86 minutes. If audiences can swallow the motion sickness set on by genre-defying twists, they will be strapped in for a film they won’t soon forget.

Pack Animal


by Hope Madden

Cinema is full of lovable losers, but every so often an actor so fully inhabits a character that you can almost forget the film around him. He is no longer a disposable source of comedy or pity, but an living, breathing, bleeding human you must root for: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Scottie in Boogie Nights, Robert De Niro’s Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy, Dustin Hoffman’s Ratso in Midnight Cowboy.

Marcello Fonte just leapt onto the list with his deeply flawed, deeply human and beautifully realized dog groomer Marcello in Matteo Garrone’s latest, Dogman.

Slight, fidgety and endlessly kind-hearted, Marcello loves his dogs, his daughter and the neighbors in his grey little seaside slum. Sure, he sells a little coke on the side, but he doesn’t want to cause any trouble.

Unfortunately for Marcello, the behemoth Simone (Edoardo Pesce, utterly brilliant) is nothing if not a lumbering mountain of trouble.

After his darkly delightful 2015 fairy tale outing Tale of Tales, Garrone returns to the heavier Italian realism of Gomorrah. He hasn’t abandoned allegory, though.

Given his nation’s political history and current leanings, it isn’t tough to draw metaphor from the tale of an unthinking bully and the population who cows to him. (This is not a tough metaphor for Americans to fathom, either.)

Not that it pulls attention away from Marcello. The film has themes of the classic Western, a good man pushed to dark means to protect what he has. But in this case, Marcello is an almost feminine presence among the cash-for-gold shop or video game arcade owners who share his strip of town. Marcello is liked, if not exactly respected.

Childlike is what he is, a pack animal but never the alpha. As his story progresses, Garrone’s tight grip on the narrative and its visual emphasis turn the film from that of an underdog’s struggle to something sadder and grander.

As hope mixes with hopelessness, Dogman raises questions it never really answers, and ultimately feels wearily confused and disappointed by people.