QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM VENICE
A father is tormented because he thinks that the ghost of his young child may have returned. This child died a tragic and accidental death for which the father feels responsible. The father works in building restoration. The film takes place in Venice. A character falls from the top of building. Do you think I’m talking about Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 classic Don’t Look Now? Think again. This is in reality Stefano Mordini’s Let Me Go. But the similarities between this Italian film and one of the greatest British horror movies ever made don’t fit in one paragraph.
There is a sex sequence between the two protagonists that’s interspersed with images of the same people getting dressed. Just like with Donald Sutherland’s and Julie Christie’s characters. The images aren’t as raunchy and the editing isn’t as frenetic and innovative. But I can’t believe that this is a mere coincidence. In some way, Mordini is paying tribute to Nicolas Roeg’s outstanding horror.
But this is neither a remake nor a sequel. Random plot devices have been placed in an entirely new context, creating a brand new beast of a movie. Let Me Go is an outstanding suspense film of its own right, teeming with tension and originality. Marco (Stefano) and Clara (Maya Sansa) lost their five-year-old son Leo eight years earlier. Marco is now remarried and his wife Anita (Serena Rossi) is expecting a child. One day, Perla (Valeria Golino) – the current owner of the top-floor apartment where Marco and Clara previously lived with their Leo – approaches Marco claiming that her child is seeing and talking to the ghost of Leo. At first, Marco refuses engaging Perla, instead threatening her with police action. But he’s soon persuaded by his ex-wife to pursue the matter further.
Strange coincidences begin to happen, suggesting that the ghost is indeed very real. Both Perla’s son and a medium that the couple visits know very personal details of the life and death Leo. Marco and Clara visit the room where their son lived several times. The chamber has exquisite water reflections patterns on the wall, a phenomenon called camera obscura (also known as pinhole image). Yet they neither Marco nor Clara see nor hear their dead son. They then visit a quantum physics expert in an attempt to make sense out of the seemingly unearthly events. Marco reads Oriental literature on life after death. Meanwhile, Anita suspects that her husband has rekindled his relationship with his former wife. She consequently leaves him.
The labyrinthic alleyways and canals of Venice also contribute towards to the tension, and do the claustrophobic staircases of the building where Leo day. Also very significantly, a lot of the action takes place when Venice is flooded, booted workers crossing St Mark’s Square. Our characters are trapped and threatened by forces that they cannot control, just like the exuberant Italian city.
Mordini uses a very agile and efficient script in order to keep audiences guessing whether the ghost child indeed exists, or whether there is a more mundane explanation for the sightings. Up until now, audiences haven’t been shown any paranormal activity. It could all be a huge coincidence. Or an elaborate hoax. The tension build towards a grand finale. Will there be a shocking and gruesome revelation at the very end, just like in Roeg’s film? There is indeed a very surprising twist in the end, topped with just the right amount of ambiguity.
Let Me Go is the closing film of the 77th Venice International Film Festival. The right film at the place and at the right time. What a delightful surprise!