That Tommaso verbalizes his own anxieties so plainly in these meetings helps us better comprehend his mania, his see-sawing between utter collapse and calm self-awareness. And yet Ferrara constructs the film itself as something of a Möbius strip, with no real signifiers of where Tommaso’s travails begin or where (or if) they might end. “Please, I need you,” Tommaso cries to wife and daughter in a genuine admission of need and love—yet what are we supposed to make of the fact that it happens as he’s chasing them down the street while wielding a broken floor lamp? Maybe Tommaso’s final dream, and the film’s closing scene, offers a clue: this moving tableau, something of a brief passion play held outside the Rome airport, recalls Dafoe’s performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, while hitting a level of spirituality that’s not uncommon in Ferrara’s work. It’s a signature image, revealing the director’s ability to blend cinematic, religious, and personal history into gratifyingly challenging art.
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