Italian film legend Isabella Rossellini ends her celibate theatrical performance Darwin’s smile , at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where she was one of the stars of La Chimera, Alice Rohrwacher’s much-loved Looking forward to the new movie.
The young Italian director was nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film for The Pupils, and since her 2010 Feature film The Wonders has been a Cannes favourite, ever since it won the Grand Prix. Her 2014 follow-up Happy as Lazzaro won Best Screenplay honors.
Rossellini plays The Crown star Josh O’Connor in new film mother, performed entirely in English.
THR Roma interviewed Rossellini before the film’s Cannes premiere , discussing the film, her connection, and how she and Rohrwacher (the beekeeper’s daughter) bonded over their love of the natural world. “There was an instinctive affinity, based on a sense of nostalgia for the rural way of life, that turned into a great admiration the moment I started working with her.”
How did your collaboration start? What impresses you most about Alice Rohrwacher?
I met her sister Alba through her (I was in La Chimera in one of the co-stars). Her partner Saverio Costanzo was one of the few The Solitude of Prime Numbers who had me in ] . I know Alba’s sister is the director and I want to see her film. My jaw dropped when I actually saw her talent. I was very impressed by the way she took a personal approach without departing from the tradition of the Italian masters. Her films take lessons from neorealism, borrow certain elements from (Federico) Fellini, but there is also an aspect that is absolutely unique to her. She rightly goes one step further.
A distinguishing feature of her films is the presence of a spiritual dimension, also evident in La Chimera . At first, the movie seems like a story about grave robbers, but soon you discover that there’s something much deeper beneath the surface. When I read the really beautiful script, I told her that I was overwhelmed by the presence — actually persistence — of the plundered soul, and it felt like it was a movie about death. She corrected me: “It’s not Isabella, it’s a movie about the afterlife,” which I realized was true after we started filming. Alice is interested in how important our ancestors are in our lives.
What impresses you about the way she works?
First of all, her extraordinary mastery stems from clarity of thought without diminishing the poetic element. I played a very eccentric lady named Flora, and in many scenes I was surrounded by other women, like the choir of an orchestra. Reading the pages where I spoke with five people, I had at least two days of work to prepare, but Alice managed to finish it in half a day, with absolute control and the ability to get everyone to perform like an orchestra. She Let the sounds overlap, and then let them alternate, the way a conductor tells a violin or bass to step in or play louder. She explained to me that she had developed this ability while studying in drama school, and that it was rooted in her natural talent.
Any other Italian directors you would like to collaborate with?
Now is the prosperous period of our film industry, there are many excellent directors, but if I have to choose one, I will choose Paolo Sorrentino.