Tommaso | Chicago Reader
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Tommaso

If you made a film about your life, would you be kind to your past self? Abel Ferrara’s answer to that question, Tommaso, is complicated. A previous collaborator with Ferrara in Pasolini, Willem Dafoe embodies a fictionalized version of the provocative filmmaker—he’s six years sober, a recent transplant to Rome with a much younger wife and their daughter (played by Ferrara’s actual wife and daughter), and is trying to forgive himself for his past so he can finally move on and be the family man he never could be. Dafoe is a dynamo in an otherwise muted and low-budget production, carrying the narrative with a cocktail of frantic and isolated neuroticism that feels like it will explode at any moment. The film’s swirling camerawork, fantastical hallucinations, and largely improvised framework make watching Tommaso feels like you’re watching a man unravel in real time. It would be easy for Tommaso to feel self-indulgent—but it never asks for your pity. Instead, Tommaso embodies the sometimes poetic, sometimes unforgiving parts of being human and the challenges of grappling with one’s complicated legacy.

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