A couple living in a big sea-faring city, Margherita Buy and Antonio Albanese, Elsa and Michele, a middle class couple who are apparently satisfied and happy, with a good education and a close relationship.
They have a grown-up daughter.
Elsa has returned to and completed her much loved studies in history of art, Michele works for a company which he also owns.
Everything falls apart when Michele loses his job and “” above all “” when he cannot find another.
Elsa does her best whilst he drifts into listless desperation with flashes of madness.
The money disappears, they have to leave the house they have lived in for years, the marriage begins to creak “¦
For both it is the beginning of a difficult new life but maybe also an important and positive turning point.
In “Giorni e Nuvole”, which will be presented at the Rome Film Festival and goes on general release on 26th October, Silvio Soldini returns to Genoa three years aft er “Agata e la tempesta”.
“I had wanted to return ever since then,” explains the director.
“That was just a first approach to the city because only a small part of the movie was set there. I didn’t manage to use everything I had discovered when I was location hunting.
Genoa is a very cinematographic city, squeezed as it is between the sea and the mountains.
It has not been exploited by movies and there is, therefore, less risk of dejà vuor, even worse, a picture postcard eff ect.
After “Pane e tulipani”, when I worked in Venice, I think I have been pretty good at avoiding that, but still”¦”.
Attentive as always to the backgrounds in which his characters move, Soldini had Genoa in mind when he began writing the story of Elsa and Michele.
“I was thinking of a city where my characters would not be locked up claustrophobically but where, by looking upwards, they could immediately feel free, able to go elsewhere.
A womb which contains but does not constrain.
My protagonists are two people who have traveled, who love traveling but, for various existential reasons in this movie, are basically trapped. This explains,” continues Soldini, “the need for a city by the sea”. Which ends up almost being the third protagonist.
“The various locations permeated the movie even when we were shooting interiors”.
So in “Giorni e nuvole” we see the port as well as the city viewed from the sea during a trip in a sailing boat.
There are the alleys and old medieval palaces where Elsa works as a restorer.
There is the middle-class Albaro district where the protagonists live at the beginning only to move later to a high-rise building in Quarto Alto. “Andrea Rocco and the Film Commission helped me a lot”, continues Soldini.
“They don’t have the same funds available as other similar structures (or perhaps I should say they didn’t have: now that the Film Commission is not just responsible for Genoa but for the whole region of Liguria, they may have more money available).
However, they still made a very important contribution.
They helped me to find some of the views I used of Genoa”.
But “Giorni e nuvole” is restricted to the regional capital; Liguria is “outside”.
The director only got to know the region better later on, when he had the idea of making a sort of video diary about the movie and Genoa, starting with the location hunting and continuing up to the actual filming.
He ended up making a kind of documentary about Liguria which aimed to promote the area without any stereotyping, with the help and financing of the Regional Government.
“The only condition I was given was that the footage should not be restricted to Genoa but that it should include the rest of the region as well.
This totally transformed what I had been doing.
But I was given a free hand.
The title comes from a song by de André, “à‚ à§àmma, Un piede in terra e l’altro in mare” [One foot on the land and one in the sea].
It is my personal journey of discovery of Liguria: the sea and the mountains.
But also the people who live there, their stories and their traditions.
I really enjoyed discovering the region from day to day.
I used it as an excuse to strengthen my relationship with this land”. And, he confesses, almost in passing, that he also fell a bit in love with it.
He might even consider going to live there.
Cinema&Video International n. 10-11 October/November 2007