Venice Film Festival Day 9: We hit the home stretch with two radically contemporary historical epics: ‘Inu-Oh’ by underground genius Masaaki Yuasa and ‘Final Duel’ by Ridley Scott

Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and a handful of stars star in Scott’s new work presented on the final day of the contest.


Like the great trips, there are festivals that force you to grow … Beyond that natural progression that takes you from a whole journalist to a ramshackle nocturnal animal with the days, it is nothing new to perceive that passing through some competitions changes you to forever. Perhaps the most surprising thing then is that, during the last days of this last Mostra, the majority of Spanish critics with whom we have spoken add to the impression that the event has genuinely put them to the test and that, to this day They are no longer the same as when they arrived. I mention this because, transcending the willing freedom to season a chronicle with personal experience, it is not risky to draw this 78th edition of the Biennale del Cinema as a true turning point in the experience of covering a great international festival.

Either because of how quickly tickets were sold out on the online ticket office map, that the last edition was very relaxed due to the low influx of public and that This year it has become a real battlefield for the most demanded sessions of the week (Dune’s entries, Alejandro told it in his chronicle, disappeared in a matter of seconds). It may also be due to
massive concentration of international premieres in the first four days of the festival, which surpassed us in terms of workload and homogenization of discourse (Parallel Mothers Day,
of course, they talked about her and nothing else). Or perhaps this change to forced marches comes from the proximity to Cannes, which spoiled us with its brilliant offer … What we do know – I know, at least – is that we reached the final stretch of the Mostra with some vertigo and, above all, wanting to feel a little at home.

Which is the complete opposite of what it offered us a priori You-Oh, the latest film by the animation genius Masaaki Yuasa (I point to ‘last’ in a double sense, also because the director commented that he has decided to take a long, well-deserved rest period, after years of producing and directing at a superhuman pace). Projected in the Orizzonti parallel section, You-Oh takes us back to the heart of the Muromachi era, in feudal Japans. XIV-XVI), during a time of great political squabbles between shogun and emperor. Serves as a backdrop for tell the story of friendship between Tomona, the son of a lowly ronin on a mission to avenge his late father, and the eponymous Inu-Oh, a kind of masked humanoid who spends his days wandering through towns while practicing his greatest vocation, dancing. If Tomona was left blind, cursed by the sword of the Dragon King’s Palace under the sea, Inu-Oh was turned into a monster in the womb of his human mother, condemned to keep an aberrant and constantly changing form until the end of his days.


Based on the homonymous novel by Hideo Furukawa, which in turn completed the life of a minor character in the Sing by Heike (something like The Japanese Quixote), input the new film from the Science Saru studio would seem to belong only to a bygone time. However, if one thing has defined Masaaki Yuasa’s prolific career, it is his complete eclecticism, which manages to infuse each and every one of
the titles that he signs with an undeniable aura of contemporaneity. Yuasa’s images are fast and chainedThey speak in the present and sound exciting, as if urgently fired into the future. We stand before an episodic tape, rooted in the language of the musical. At once, the tape is both a political x-ray and a mythical fable, intimate show and story. More importantly, almost as if emulating Yuasa’s role as a creator against the current: in the face of the general trend, in anime
mainstream, of building ominous, beautiful and eminently empty shows, in films that are about everything and nothing, management remains sober, contained. There are only a couple of sequences in computer-generated 3D, in the dances the camera is mostly fixed, at eye level and the animation never gives up showing its guts, lowering, in a fully “yuasian” gesture, the frames per second every time a movement becomes too real. Without a doubt, this is an imperfect movie, but terribly important.

It closed the barrage of blockbusters that ordered the first days of the festival a more important world premiere, of course, than the traditional closing film of the Official Section (Roberto Andò, forgive
the international press for massively ignoring your The hidden child). It is, of course, Final Duel, a joint effort by Ridley Scott in the direction, with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener as producers and screenwriters. The team – a handful of names belonging to a great Hollywood, author, perhaps already anchored in another time – proposes here a rereading of the Rashomon de Kurosawa in a medieval context. From the outset, the trio set out to write the events that lead two close friends to
face a duel to the death, yes, from three different points of view: Damon wrote the part of the character he plays (the honored gentleman Jean de Carrouges), Affleck shaped the experience of Jacques Le Gris (to whom Adam Driver puts a face) and, finally, Holofcener returned to the point of view of the true protagonist of the story, Marguerite, De Carrouges’s wife. Marguerite (Jodie Comer) was raped by Le Gris, who denied the facts alleging consent and pleasure, in a story that we
sounds terrifyingly familiar.

The film is formally very classic and its narrative rhythm suffers from excesses due to a very loose montage and a too rigid structure. However, in the eyes of those who write to you, the proposal manages to overcome the great impasse in which North American commercial cinema is flooded, which is none other than his own turn towards pop propaganda, the need to flatten “message” on top of the images. We have suffered it for years in films with a minimally progressive nature, but a totally outdated form: dialogues in the form of a tweet, inserts of pure commitment to trendy social flagging on tapes that, on the other hand, are as visually conservative as any. We know it, if the political infiltrates each and every one of the wickers of our daily life, also the images must bet on teaching us something of truth. If not, they are mere lip service. Therefore (away from all spoilers), I jump for joy when I see that in Scott’s very classic movie a brief glance from Marguerite takes on the same weight and, in fact, is capable of refuting an entire segment, before narrated by men, from history. Or because of this, I highly value the work of revising the ideas that the bodies of Damon, Driver, and Affleck are intrinsically associated with (why should Matt Damon always embody utopian idealism? Can we forgive violence, facing the charismatic eyes of Adam Driver?). Also for this, I am delighted to see that from the staging itself so much importance is given to how we teach that Marguerite, always hidden behind shoulders or clipped between male figures, begins to be a victim of violence and disempowerment long before she was raped. When the cinema talks, the rest are stories.