Spettacolo is a reminder that documentaries can also be a routine.
A Tuscan village prepares for a major production while filmmakers Jeff Malmberg and Christina Shellen stand by and observe quietly. The town’s annual tradition involves an elaborate stage play where townsfolk play themselves in a story that is built from their own personal opinions and feelings. The specific performance Spettacolo chonicles is “the end of the world”, where different interpretations of the concept come alive.
Spettacolo isn’t without interesting context. Through vintage footage and interviews with the actors and director, Malmberg and Shellen provide movie goers with a thorough history of this cathartic exercise, along with backstories about the people involved. Once that personal information is settled, Spettacolo slips into autopilot; recording dull brainstorming sessions and rehearsals before the inevitable play is performed (and too quickly recapped by the documentarians).
The documentary, while adequate, doesn’t quite have the resonance to match this Tuscan hidden treasure. Audiences will be somewhat educated, but they won’t leave feeling enlightened.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie