In his six feature films, the director of Gomorra has developed a style reminiscent of the finest hour of Italian cinema.
Rare are those cinema buffs who did not see in Gomorra, Jury Grand Prix in 2008, the beginnings of a modern version of Italian neo-realism. Popularised in post-war Italy by Rosselini, Visconti and De Sica, this filmmaking school was born of the desire to prioritise the representation of reality over dramatic structure in creating a film's atmosphere.
Gomorra was proof positive, following on from The Embalmer (2002) and First Love (2004), of the ease with which Matteo Garrone took up this mantle, with a near-documentary style which captured a genuine slice of life in a modern Italy beset by crisis. Matteo Garrone willingly admits that the roots of his cinema are "subconsciously" imbued with the critical spirit and aesthetic codes of neorealism, with their tight angles and occasionally abrupt approach to editing: a more modern and personal touch.
Garrone likes to film the world without stylistic effects, but is unafraid to point out its excesses. In Reality, a satirical comedy focusing on the obsessional relationship between his country's TV and Reality TV, the critic says between the lines, "Reality TV shows are just a pretext for a contemporary journey. It's a televisual fable," says Garrone.
As a worthy heir to the neorealist movement, Matteo Garrone's working method is based in part on respect for its principles. Sound is captured live. The action is essentially shot with a hand-held camera and in the real environment of his characters, to whom the director endeavours to grant the greatest possible sincerity, highlighting the slightest details along the way.
The director's thinking extends beyond the fundamental principles of neorealism. Rossellini said he saw cinema as "a way of facing up to real life." For Matteo Garrone, it is no longer merely a tool for describing or facing reality, but a fundamental element in the creation of that reality. "Cinema is not a carbon copy of reality: it's reality which is a carbon copy of the cinema," he says.
The film screens at 8.30 am and 10.30 pm in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.