A quasi-documentary that is as charming as it is contemplative, The Adventures of Gigi the Law has some very strong moments of emotion that catch you off guard. Alessandro Comodin has made a film that you can’t help but gravitate towards.
Gigi, a good-natured, contemplative policeman in a small village in northern Italy, spends his workdays making inquiries into minor infractions, checking on residents, listening to his car radio, and flirting with a pretty new colleague. Yet even in this uneventful town, a dark undercurrent of melancholy is indicated by a wave of recent suicides on the local train tracks.
Will a fictional tale, Alessandro Comodin has that unique ability to make his story’s setting feel as if it is real; you believe these characters and moments to the fullest extent possible. He does this while also keeping a wonderful air of mystery to the story, you are not quite sure where it is going due to the suspicious events that surround Pier Luigi Mecchia’s Gigi, but you gravitate to its lightness. This almost documentary feel to The Adventures of Gigi the Law comes partly from the long, static shots provided. We feel we are observers, watching a moment play out in the Italian sun.
Yet, for all that lightness present in our friendly Gigi, there is something more under the surface brewing away that keeps you invested. Whether that is the crime that he has his suspicions on or the fact that despite all of the beauty in this part of Italy. There is a need to escape, a need that some of those who live in “the middle of nowhere” endlessly feel. They want to get away and live a different life away from the boredom of familiarity. So the fact that we are aware that this event has happened before at a rail line, the place that leads to as direct an escape route as possible, is all the more poignant. Gigi is aware of this darkness, too and often comments about it.
Comodin has given us as close to a blank canvas as you can get with a lead character. We know so little about him that we veer off creating our own images of his life outside of work. The fact that this is his own uncle as well makes it all the more fascinating. Full of confidence (he is a real-life policeman, after all). He is still able to provide us with heart and contemplation (even when flirting away as much as possible). As the film slowly builds to the final scene on the bench. Suddenly how he is as a person makes a lot more sense, and the rawness brings much power you don’t expect.
The Adventures of Gigi The Law may frustrate those who like to get to the meat of a story instead of glacially getting there. The fact we spend as much time in the car with Gigi flirting away with the dispatcher as we do with him investigating will surely rile some. But that is the charm of the film, not all aspects of a person’s day involve one specific thing; there are a number of things going on at any one time. However, moments go on for longer than they ideally would, leaving the film lacking a proper fluid rhythm that should be there.
Some of this lies in Mecchia himself, who allows these moments to drag on instead of finding a quicker, more appealing resolution. Comodin’s reliance on being reluctant to cut also comes into play here, and while on occasions it works, the times it doesn’t are far more noticeable. Yet he touches you when we feel like we get something authentic from him. This contemplative movie allows us to drift away, and whenever a dark cloud tries to cover the film, the sun manages to find its way through to maintain that cheerful tone. Well worth a watch.
The Adventures of Gigi the Law North American Premiere · Q&As with Alessandro Comodin On Oct. 12 & 13
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