Before apologizing for going to buy a jacket in a luxury store, Tom gave a little anthropology lesson, in the hope that it might explain the situation in Den Harrow. “Let me tell you something about Italy,” he began. “In the 80s, they smashed your window to steal your car stereo. Always. So you would take it out of the car and take the stupid thing to the bar or wherever you went, because otherwise they would take it. A real pain in the ass. “He went on to explain that on occasion, to save himself hassle, he would hide the craft under the seat rather than drag it with him.” But sometimes, “Tom said darkly,” it did not work. What if you ever told someone – a bartender, let’s say – that your car stereo had been stolen, the first thing they would ask you was, “Well, did you leave it under your seat?” And if you said yes, their answer was, “It’s your fault, so, stupid!” “”
Tom took another sip of the wine and waited a moment for everyone to absorb what he was trying to convey. “It is how are the Italians, ”he said. In a country so full of inconveniences, where the rules are constantly twisted and where everyone lies, cunning is a national requirement, naivety inexcusable. “They would be embarrassed to admit that they didn’t know Den Harrow was a fraud.”
Hours later, as the sun began to set over the elaborate English-style gardens of Villa Borghese Gardens, Jonny arrived at a theater on the outskirts of the park. Tom showed up a few minutes later with his wife; his niece was there too. A handful of aging Italo Disco fans gathered in the walkways of the crushed granite garden, along with movie critics and budding young directors. There was a reporter from The Republic, The biggest Italian daily. Stefano was nowhere to be found, but Jonny couldn’t help but search compulsively for him. It seemed that at any moment Stefano could come out from behind a well-groomed topiary, a Prada messenger bag worn like a shield, screaming, “Bastard! “
At one point, as the twilight turned dark, a festival employee ushered everyone into the theater. The curtains rose, revealing a black screen with an epigraph: Art has a double face, expression and illusion. – Publilius Syrus. The 85 minute film that follows is about as good as the documentary feature films. It’s like watching a perfectly crafted fairy tale in which medieval princesses have been replaced by aging men fighting over Facebook over the legacy of their intertwined lives during Bettino Craxi’s time. It’s beautifully shot and scored, with clever visual gags, psychological precision, and shifting, unsteady sympathies. It’s atmospheric and ambitious, shrewd of the obligations that come with success, the inherent tragedy of fandom, and the psychic cost of self-awareness. It’s sad and philosophical but also really, really, really funny.
At the end of the credits, the festival organizer invited Jonny to take the stage. Tom joined him and almost immediately began a prolonged, jerky monologue – in Italian, most of the time, which ended, somewhat mortifying, with another a cappella performance. Jonny was standing right there. He had assumed the worst before showing the final product about his film for the first time, and was relieved when, 25 minutes later, Tom smiled and congratulated him.
Then everyone migrated to a patio adjacent to the bar. Tom, red wine in hand, looked serene, which was probably due to the fact that he had spent the last 24 hours, like Jonny, half-expecting to see Stefano for the first time in 30 years, then to realize, finally, that it was not going to happen. He was joking; he kissed his wife. He signed a few records, satisfied with the late recognition, and shook his head. “To be a fan of a mime,” he said, “you have to be a pretty weird guy.”