OUTFEST 2008 Film Review - Ciao

Adam Neal Smith in "Ciao"

 Jeff is Mark’s best friend. They have known each other since college. They came out within a week of one another. So when Mark (Chuck Blaum) dies in a car crash, it falls to Jeff to make arrangements and spread the bad news to people who may not know of Mark’s passing.

One of the tasks Jeff (Adam Neal Smith) must undertake is answering Mark’s emails. This is how hw comes to know about Andrea (Alessandro Caiza), an internet friend of Mark’s from Italy who had planned to visit him. Jeff sends off the sad email and it seems that the trip would be cancelled. But for some reason, Jeff changes him s mind and suggests that Andrea keep his plan to visit for the weekend.

The two share an easy courteous meeting and weekend, exchanging stories about Mark. There re no real surprises between them as they both seemed to know Mark very well.

Alessandro Caiza (l.) and Adam Neal Smith in "Ciao"

Ciao is a fine film; unfortunately it is simply that, just fine, just OK. The lead is not especially charismatic and that is important for a film that moves so slowly. Andrea was a little better, but the overall sedate tone of the script does not allow him to go very far. The filmmaker chose to tell the story in static shots – no camera movement within the takes – but the device does not serve to help a story that lack momentum and performances that generally lack energy. The film is well-lit and the sparse solo piano score was elegant and moving (and perhaps the best thing about the film).

The visit comes to an end

There are no surprises in this film mainly because there is no antagonist. There is only a hint of an emotional connection between the men and a brief physical connection that is born out of grief. There is no conflict and no revelations, just lots of talking heads.

Visiting Mark

If the filmmaker’s intent was simply to tell a story about the emptiness of loss, he certainly achieved that end. However, I was left wanting more.

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