Based on Massimo Gramellini’s novel, Sweet Dreams, Little One (2015), Italian director, Marco Bellocchio’s film explores the lasting damage inflicted on its lead character, Massimo, when he loses his mother at the age of nine and it questions the validity of denying children the truth in order to protect them.
Childhood flashbacks of the happy times that Massimo shared with his youthful mother are interspersed with her death and its aftermath, as well as his adolescence and career as a journalist, and there are fleeting insights into his difficult personal relationships. Empathy for the young protagonist comes easily and there are insightful scenes. However, his adult relationships are under explored and the jumbling of the narrative is disruptive.
When Massimo writes of the event many years later, the scene showing dozens of people reading his column is uncomfortable because it highlights how quickly something that is genuinely cathartic and heartfelt in private becomes trite on publication. This is something which the film itself occasionally suffers from in its more sentimental moments.
Sweet Dreams by Marco Bellocchio is out on DVD, courtesy of Soda Pictures.
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1. Sweet Dreams by Marco Bellocchio. Still.