The Dialogue Dilemma: La Prima Luce

When directing a film about a couple’s break up, there is one question that has to be dealt with: How do you let the audience partake in the repetitivness of the dysfunctional relationship that is stuck running in habit circles, yet still make a gripping, diverse and interesting movie? La prima Luce by Vincenzo Marra tells a story like that. Martina is stuck with her passive aggressive, oppressive partner Marco, who would like to but can’t catch up the the distance that she puts between the two of them. Right between those ‚lovebirds‘, and at the centre of both of their seperate lifes, there is 8 year-old son Mateo, who is the core of the parents‘ conflict: Martina wants to leave Italy, return to her home country Chile – and take Mateo with her for good, a thing Marco cannot allow. Prepare for some drama and a lot of dialogue about the dire situation. A lot of poorly orchestrated dialogue, that is.

Marra did not find an answer for the afforementioned dilemma, instead he confuses the relationship running in circles with stringing together one and the same shot after reverse shot after shot (and so on) during the conversations. This, combined with the off-paced editing, turns every dialogue into a boring, half-hearted reading of the script, one reader at a time, with nothing else going on. If I’ll tell you now that the movie is basically nothing but dialogue scenes, you can imagine how long those 108 minutes have felt. To point out one redeeming thing about the film: the couple is speaking both Italian and Spanish, and depending on the situation switch from one language to another: when Marco tries to shut her up, Martina retreats to her mother tongue, while he refuses to follow her and keeps talking in Italian. The use of the two languages really emphasises the respecitve situation and shows the current hierarchy in the relationship. The movie greatly benefits from that. So, although they are neither extraordinarily sharp nor authentic, the dialogues could have been really interresting, were it not for the uncreative and repetitive directing.

What’s more, is some ludicrous plot points, a lawyer who doesn’t know his countrie’s laws, and the worst, most cliche private detective in movie history – it would be hillarious if it weren’t so embarrassing.

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