Unfortunately, “Tommaso” is far more navel-gazing and long-winded than intimate, in as much of a creative funk as its protagonist.
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Abel Ferrara’s film is about that precise feeling of living with an itch unscratched.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Ferrara movie without some jagged edges. “Tommaso” manages to feel rough and risky while somehow sensitive at the same time, like the best of them.
Despite a raw performance from Willem Dafoe, Tommaso feels more like a self-indulgent male fantasy than an introspective character study.
Like so much in this deceptively earnest film, the Roman backdrop creates ambiguous terms. One is left to wonder whether Tommaso’s internal chaos is that of an eternal figure in an ancient city, or just another guy trying to keep it together as he makes the turn to the Piazza Dante.
A movie that’s a loosely structured ramble can work, and about half of “Tommaso” feels more vital than anything Ferrara has made in a while. But the film should have been shapelier and 20 minutes shorter, with a more focused dramatic psychology.
It’s pretentious and indulgent. But as with most Ferrara films, Tommaso makes for an interesting trip into a seriously unconventional mind visualized by an always unconventional storyteller.
Ferrara has never been so concerned with making people like him–just wait for the audacity of the last 10 minutes. But given the brutal honesty of his latest, one of the most candid movies of its kind, it is difficult to not simply be happy for the man when Tommaso reaches its surreal point of catharsis.
It’s fair to ask whether the world really needs one more story about a flawed, brilliant, lustful older male artist, but Tommaso’s commitment to its own soul-searching fervor is potently feverish.
A bit more discipline would have helped this one, which struggles to hold viewer interest across two full hours but would likely register more strongly with 15-20 minutes removed.