Festivals: Cannes (In Competition) 2012
Grand Prix, Cannes Film Festival 2012
Plunging us headlong into celebrity mania, this energetic satire of the transforming power of television in Berlusconi-land won Matteo Garrone his second Cannes Grand Prix. Tragicomic, carnivalesque and character-centred, it could not be more different in tone from his previous winner, the sober, epic Gomorrah.
"A fixture of his village and large family sprawled across a charming, crumbly structure at the head of the town square, Luciano is dragged away from work (well, from his side gig orchestrating the black-market trade of kitchen 'robots') by a pleading call from his young daughters, demanding he come down to the mall and try out for Big Brother... Then Luciano gets a call-back, which involves a psychiatric evaluation. It goes well, or so Luciano thinks ('They were, like, "Stop, that's enough",' he brags to his family), and he goes back to Napoli certain he's won a place on the show, a conviction only strengthened when strangers start visiting the fish market – Luciano can only assume they're spies sent 'from the TV' to determine that he truly deserves a slot in the Big Brother house... If the syndrome of 'Big Brother Shock' was the social disease of the Berlusconi era... as a satirical portrait of that era and that disease, Reality's real subversion is in preserving a moment of madness for future generations." — Karina Longworth, LA Weekly
"The perils of appearing on reality television are well-rehearsed by now, but Matteo Garrone must be the first filmmaker to address the perils of not appearing on it... It is also a blistering parable about the dangers of faith, and Garrone plays up to the story's religious parallels with relish." — Robbie Collin, The Telegraph