Capturing the feeling of frustration and immobility at the heart of Italian life today is something of a national mission for many writers and filmmakers. In Quiet Chaos, based on Sandro Veronesi's widely read and translated 2007 novel, director Antonello Grimaldi offers one of the most compelling descriptions of this state of malaise afflicting an entire country. He teams with cult actor/director Nanni Moretti, who coauthored the screenplay, to create a memorable, metaphoric drama about career-minded TV executive Pietro (Moretti), who suddenly finds himself a widower with a young daughter to raise. Emotionally unable to come to grips with his wife's death, he drops out of the office rat race and spends his days waiting for his daughter outside her school, where he observes his own life in relation to a narrowly circumscribed universe. This is the "quiet chaos" of the title, reflecting Pietro's personal withdrawal and inability to connect with his emotions and mourn the loss of his wife. At the same time, it extends to the people around him-his unstable sister (Valeria Golino), a woman he saves from drowning(Isabella Ferrari), his brother (Alessandro Gassman), and his anxietydriven coworkers (Charles Berling, Hippolyte Girardot, Denis Podalydés),who suspect he has secret reasons for not coming to the office while the company is going through a brutal merger. Lightly directing a top-notch cast in some of the peak performances of their careers, Grimaldi creates a world of convincingly problematic characters around Pietro, played with charismatic naturalness by Moretti. Also of note is the film's finely balanced music track, incorporating songs by Radiohead, Rufus Wainwright, and Stars with Paolo Buonvino's subtle original score. The film earned a massive 18 nominations for Italy's David di Donatello film prizes.
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