REVIEW: Atlantide (Venice 2021)
Italian director Yuri Ancarani declares in his Venice Film Festival statement that “Atlantide is a film that began without a screenplay.”
It could very well be said that it still hasn’t got one.
There are, perhaps, 15 lines of dialogue in Ancarani’s ridiculous and amateurish film about Daniele, (Daniele Barison) a young Venetian man’s dealings with drugs, relationships and boat propellors, as he takes his neon lit boat to the waters of Venice. Afraid to say: That’s about it. The slapdash non-existent script is just feels perfunctory, the lighting surrounding Venice feels artificially constructed as multiple lights, emitting from under the protagonist Daniele’s boat, illuminating the Venetian waters. The film plays out in extended scenes of Daniele performing acts of crime, interacting with drugs, having sex and spending time driving his boat around Venice with his boom box thrust up in the air in the middle of the night. It makes one feel like an old man with a broom, internally yelling at this kid and his mates to turn it down!
It’s not without merits, of course. It’s overbearing score, when not being drowned out by dance music, is really pleasant and there are some wonderful compositions caught with Ancarani’s voyeuristic camera style. However, placing a camera in position, driving around Venice and using whichever scenes you think work within this aesthetic is hardly film making. It makes this style of “extreme realism” feel starved for authenticity.
It handles sexuality strangely too. An overhead shot of a sex scene is surprisingly alluring in its red and green lit backdrop but features a brand new character, with whom we then spend five minutes with watching her dance on the edge of the boat and do cocaine. She exists much like the rest of the characters as an empty vacuum of existence. It can also feel more than a touch sexist and revelling in its male gaze, in how the first shot of a girl that Daniele meets is quite literally her chest, then her crotch. If there was any attempted depth in this, at how this teenage boy only sees her as a sex object, it’s a huge stretch to make within the fragmented thinly-plotted menagerie of scenes that they have together, one in which, using their supposedly limited amount of dialogue, mentions their lack of affectionate moments together.
For a film so in love with it’s Venetian landscape, this “vibe-check” of a film can only be surmised by its final ten minutes as the camera rotates 90 degrees and proceeds to showcase Venice in all it’s admittedly gorgeous glory, but this film premiered in Venice. For those people here, instead of spending their hard-fought time on Atlantide, they could walk 100 metres outside and view the canals in which the film is set in. Wait for the sun to set, and enjoy the illuminated streets and stunning architecture. What makes Atlantide such a misfire is that it doesn’t transport you into the film, and it fails to immerse you within its ambience. It’s in this fallacy that going outside anywhere in the world would be a more fulfilling experience, emotionally and spiritually than suffering through this.
Sadly, this is barely a film. It would suit a museum, as its style of music video-esque is dedicated to promoting the wonders of Venice. But this, in all its wonderous colours, is what amounts to an Instagram post, a teenager’s Snapchat story that you can’t skip, but you probably should!