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aka - Quo vado?
Italy 2016
Directed by
Gennaro Nunziante
86 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

Where Am I Going?

Synopsis: Checco (Checco Zalone) holds a much-sought-after  “posto fisso” or government guaranteed job for life in an Italian small town. When a reformist government decides to cut down on bureaucracy Checco must go to extraordinary lengths to keep his privileged position.  

Where Am I Going? is being promoted as the highest-grossing film in Italian cinema history.  60 million Italians can’t be wrong, right? Wrong.  The problem with this kind of success is that it trades in the broadest, most familiar strokes, instantly recognizable stereotypes in other words, packaged in the most simplistic of ways, both in terms of form and content.  This film is the equivalent of the ocker comedy, that is, steeped in the national self-image, a kind of Italian Crocodile Dundee with an innocent abroad encountering the ways of foreigners and finding them ultimately wanting.  Except that film had the charm of Paul Hogan and this one has Checco Zalone, an Italian television comedy star (the alter ego of Luca Pasquale Medici who co-wrote the script with the director), a pudgy, balding and decidedly uncharismatic protagonist (had the ebullient Roberto Begnini played the part it might have been a different matter).

From its opening scene with Checco in a taxi somewhere in the wilds of Africa conversing with a driver in fluent Italian one’s heart sinks. Everything screams “pedestrian” (although they are in a car that will change in a couple of minutes) and indeed what unfolds in the next mirthless hour and a half confirms one’s initial impulse to bolt, as the film pot-shots away at the petit-bourgeois complacency of Checco and his class – minor bureaucrats and chronic work shirkers in their cushy government sinecures.  It  would be a push to call it satire but it does manage to be mildly amusing situation comedy.

It’s when Checco is forced to take remote postings that the film really loses an unconverted audience as the lame script moves from stereotyping Italians to stereotyping other ethnicities who nevertheless inexplicably, like the taxi driver we saw in the opening scene, speak and/or understand Italian including, most incongruously,  a shoddily-assembled assortment of negroid extras playing an African tribe to whom Checco tells his story.  

Demagoguery succeeds by playing to the fond prejudices of its audience. I don’t think this was ever the intention of this film, which clearly has simply been very lucky in its box-office success and no doubt surprised its makers, but the effect is the same: a reputation inflated well beyond anything deserved. Well, outside its homeland at least.




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