Carlo Mazzacurati’s drama “La Giusta Distanza” [Eng. Title: The Right Distance] was a pleasant surprise – I’d not seen any of this director’s work before, and wasn’t expecting a lot from what I feared to be one more of those patronising multi-ethnic romances strewn with customary Italian clichés, but I was glad to be proved wrong.
We are eased into the film like a gentle comedy, as we are introduced to the main characters and their less hurried lifestyle in the tiny northern Italian town by a river delta. It however changes complexion as the film progresses, taking the air of a mystery drama towards the end. The beautiful cinematography, thoughtful editing, and sure-footed direction ensure we get to see the best coming out of his cast – notably Giovanni Capovilla who makes his film-debut playing the young protagonist Giovanni, the beautiful and charismatic Valentina Lodovini playing Mara – the other primary character around whom the film revolves, and Ahmed Hefiane who plays Hassan – Mara’s love interest. But the star of the film is definitely the excellent screenplay that shifts the film’s tempo seamlessly despite various twists and turns. This film isn’t just an out-and-out mystery thriller along the lines of El secreto de sus ojos, but takes on several additional themes without getting itself bogged-down. The title of the film refers to the adequate distance a journalist must keep from his/her subject, and making allowances, only where necessary. Likewise, the director too has certainly maintained ‘the right distance’ with his subject to give us a fair but non-judgemental snapshot of provincial Italian society. I’m surprised that this film hasn’t won many more awards, and isn’t as widely known than some of its lesser contemporaries. This is an extremely well made mainstream drama that oozes elegance, and therefore, Highly Recommended Viewing..!
Mara arrives as a temporary teacher at the town’s primary school, a town where everyone is known to each other. Her arrival inadvertently causes a stir among the town-folks’ hitherto tranquil lives, not least the honest and hard working immigrant car mechanic Hassan. Tragedy befalls, and ‘justice’ is also meted out, but young resident Giovanni – an enterprising and budding journalist, will pursue the ‘real’ truth regardless…