It's hard to stomach stories about 'nobody's' single-minded ambition to become 'somebody' via TV; Scorsese's The King Of Comedy, Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream and Larrain's Tony Manero are not easy watches. So let's be thankful that Matteo 'Gomorrah' Garrone's Fellini-esque Reality is an altogether lighter affair… for a while.
gged on by his daughter's attention-seeking, fishmonger Luciano (Arena) auditions for the latest season of Italy's Big Brother. To his surprise he gets caught up in the glitz of it all and, aware of the financial possibilities the show could bring, he, after an impressive audition, is told to wait for the call-back to the join the others in the house. Only thing is the call-back takes its time coming. Meanwhile, Luciano sells his fish stall and tries to influence either karma, God, or the supposedly spying TV people into giving him a chance on the show by giving away his possessions to the despair of his ever-suffering wife (Simioli).


arrone's opening sequence is designed to confuse and sets the tone: what is real and what is not? A floating shot of Naples finds a 17th century royal carriage making its way through the traffic where it arrives at a lavish wedding just as bride and groom release doves. Then Enzo (Paene), a former Big Brother winner, turns up for a celebrity appearance. Luciano is here, entertaining the guests in drag. It's like a fantasy, a ludicrous dream. After that, Luciano and his family retreat home to their own reality and strip off their body-moulding suits and face-changing make up. We're all guilty of skewing reality a little, it seems.
hile poking the eye of this current obsession with those elusive fifteen minutes, Garrone never holds Luciano up for ridicule. We're asked to pity him. After all, and it's not hard to spot the analogy, there are some who put the same manic fixation into their religion, offering up their time, good humour and possessions for an eventual place in their particular deity's 'house'.
hose expecting the tough and gritty tone of Gomorrah might be disappointed with Reality's satirical vibe and rather easy themes but Garrone manages to balance the comedy and the drama. Arena too is a charismatic lead.
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