Review: The Space Between
The Lavazza Italian Film Festival is once again with us, offering cinema patrons exceptional variety to chose from; everything from drama to comedy, and closing with that renowned love-letter to Rome, Roman Holiday, digitally restored in exquisite detail. But among the special events to grace the screens of Palace Cinemas, the Kino and the Astor, the jewel in the crown is surely the premiere of The Space Between, a world first Australian-Italian feature co-production from writer-director Ruth Borgobello.
Marco (Flavio Parenti) listlessly drifts through life, lacking a sense of purpose and connection. By day he is a factory drone, his constantly diminishing hours and eventual temporary redundancy indicating clearly his expandability and almost irrelevance. By night, he repeatedly dreams of standing by a river, and spying a girl on the opposing bank. His ailing father eats dinner precisely at 5, and prefers watching television to people. His one passion is cooking – he was once even a sous-chef in New York – but despite an offer to work at Di Stasio in Melbourne it seems a life to which he is reluctant to return.
He is pushed into utter despair following the involvement of his best friend in a tragic car accident, when into his life comes Olivia (Maeve Dermody), a young Australian banker visiting family in the area. With the final words of his friend – that sometimes life is about second chances – ringing in his ears, Marco and Olivia find themselves rekindling the dreams of the other – his of cooking, hers of design – as they fall in love amongst the stunning vineyards and blue Adriatic of Friuli Venzia Giulia.
The Space Between – as the name would suggest – is about the space between people. As a heart-warming example; Marco is left with his friend’s cat, which he is completely unprepared to care for, and even further surprised when it gives birth to kittens. His father quickly falls in love with them, and as he regains the compassion he has lost – and Olivia reawakens Marco’s hope – the relationship between the two men becomes closer, in stark contrast to his introduction at the beginning of the film.
There’s a rich and somewhat mysterious backstory about Marco’s time as a sous-chef in New York, which Borgobello wisely chose to avoid relating to the audience until such a time as it feels natural, which is quite a while into the film and completely avoiding falling into the category of unnecessary and excessive exposition (a storytelling convention which can often be very annoying). It is evident, though, that something traumatic has clearly occurred, bringing Marco back to his hometown of Udine, diminishing his passion and making him reluctant to return to the kitchen.
The ending of the film is left open; both characters are uncertain as to what the future may hold, but is certainly upbeat and hopeful.
The Space Between opens on the 16th with an opening night party at the Cinema Como. A Q&A with Ruth Borgodello + Screening will take place on the 17th at the Kino. Prices and times vary, check out the Kino website for more information.