Half comedy and half drama, the film struggles to find its tone amid stock characters and leisurely plotting, with nods to Fellini and Italian neorealism that leave the taste of a big, reheated pizza. It all should be funnier; still the atmospheric local kitsch wins some smiles.
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There is enough here — including the gifted Arena’s barely believable backstory — to keep your head spinning.
This vision of contemporary Italy as a warped fairyland filled with corpulent slobs and seedy C-grade celebrities recalls the tough-love spectacle of Fellini’s "La Dolce Vita," but Reality frustratingly devolves into a far more tedious mass-media morality tale.
The reality-show aesthetic pervades the movie as well. Garrone's roaming camera style draws you into each moment with extreme close-ups and long takes that wander through each scene and get lost in it. Luciano's plight is crushing because Garrone renders it with such detail.
Matteo Garrone has a sure eye for outlandish set pieces that exhibit the expansive outlines of his ideas, but these spectacles are sporadic, and the spaces between them tend to lag.
Reality is a story about one man’s desire to make it big on the small screen, and something of a familiar exploration of the blurring between reality and its simulations. More elliptically and more interestingly, it is also a look at an Italy engrossed with rituals and spectacle, in watching and being watched.
Spoofing the pernicious effects of television, especially the so-called reality genre, doesn't require pinpoint aim, and at times Luciano seems as much a target of ridicule as the superficial, oversexed entertainment served up on the tube.
Garrone's film grows in your head afterward, making royal hash out of a cultural paradigm we'll be loath to remember years from now—if, by then, everything hasn't become "reality."
It's a likable film played with gusto and heart — though fundamentally a little sentimental and predictable.
His outrageous, self-destructive journey lands him in a place just as ironic as Rupert Pupkin’s in "The King Of Comedy," but it’s haunting and mysterious, too, reflecting the dream that consumes his life.