Reality (2013)



Critic Consensus: Part dark satire, part compelling drama, Reality occasionally struggles to communicate its message, but it's never less than entertaining.

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From acclaimed director Matteo Garrone, REALITY is a darkly comic look at Luciano, a charming and affable fishmonger whose unexpected and sudden obsession with being a contestant on the reality show "Big Brother" leads him down a rabbit hole of skewed perceptions and paranoia. So overcome by his dream of being on reality TV, Luciano's own reality begins to spiral out of control, making for one of the most compelling tragicomic character studies since Scorsese's The King of Comedy. (c) Oscilloscope
R (for some language)
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
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Aniello Arena
as Luciano
Nando Paone
as Michele
Graziella Marina
as Luciano's Mother
Nello Iorio
as Massimone
Nunzia Schiano
as Aunt Nunzia
Rosaria D'Urso
as Aunt Rosaria
Claudia Gerini
as Presenter
Paola Minaccioni
as Roman Client
Ciro Petrone
as Barman
Vincenzo Riccio
as Vincenzo
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Critic Reviews for Reality

All Critics (75) | Top Critics (22)

It's clear that Garrone is lamenting the death of culture. But the movie is more compassionate than screed-y. It's a portrait of the preoccupation with fame in an age in which in fame is cheap.

Full Review… | January 3, 2014
Top Critic

The satire here is finespun, and the film's conclusions ambiguous.

Full Review… | April 5, 2013
Washington Post
Top Critic

A dark allegorical comedy about the nature of fame, about obsession, about madness - and the point where they converge: on Big Brother, a TV show watched by millions.

Full Review… | April 4, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

For all its ups and downs and occasional detours into boorishness, it's an original that will surprise if not necessarily delight fans of Garrone's very different crime drama, "Gomorrah."

April 4, 2013
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Matteo Garrone follows his crime epic Gomorrah with a comedy about reality TV, and though it hardly rivals the earlier movie in its social complexity, it still offers the spectacle of a vibrant and vividly realized Neapolitan neighborhood.

Full Review… | March 28, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

As cautionary tales go, this one's ripely knowing, and it speaks in a lot more languages than Italian.

Full Review… | March 28, 2013
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Reality

Garrone uses many elegant long takes and an evocative score to tell this fascinating, dream-like character study about a common fishmonger who gradually becomes obsessed with the idea of being famous - leading him to mix his yearnings with reality.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Matteo Garrone made a name for himself internationally back in 2008 with the release of Gomorrah, an Italian crime epic with a lot to say about the sociopolitical state of his home country. Gomorrah won Garrone the Grand Prix at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, and his latest, Reality, won the same award in 2012, though the two films couldn't be any more different. Reality is an ink-black comedy about a fishmonger with aspirations to appear on reality television. What begins as an affable portrait of a family turns into something damn near approaching tragedy-a psychological devolution brought on my delusions of bright-lights-big-city grandeur. It's a tough film to watch in some respects because it doesn't hide anything, it's rarely subtle, and it doesn't pull any punches. But not unlike the reality shows Garrone seems to be commenting on (if tangentially), it's hard to look away from Reality. Our "hero" is Luciano (Aniello Arena), a really charming guy who owns a fish stand in Naples and has three kids with his wife, Maria (Loredana Simioli). They live in a ruinous (but beautiful) complex with their entire extended family-aunts, uncles, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews. And the family is a hoot. You won't mistake them for Italy's upper crust, but they have good hearts and are mostly happy. Things take a turn for Luciano after he auditions for the reality show Big Brother. He impresses the casting crew enough to earn a callback in Rome, but he's one of seemingly thousands to do so, and for some reason, he's utterly convinced that he'll be asked to enter the house. Upon returning home, he thinks every stranger is a spy sent by the show to observe him in his natural habitat. He talks of selling his business because he'll be set for life after winning the show's top prize. He begins stalking a former contestant who he met once at a wedding. His whole world is going to hell, and he doesn't have a clue. The film works primarily because Aniello Arena gives such a dedicated performance. His Luciano has a big personality, and you can definitely see him on a show like Big Brother. But there's no super compelling reason why he'd be a casting shoo-in. And when he gets on this kick, waiting for the show to give him the go-ahead, Arena goes for it with a gusto. He becomes truly scary without sacrificing any of the qualities we've come to know him for-charmer, loving father, etc. By the film's haunting final shot, he is a man absolutely consumed by an obsession, but the transformation was fluid and, ultimately, quite an astounding achievement. Reality also looks great. The film is bright, but Garrone employs a yellow-green tint to the surroundings, which visually remind us something in this world is amiss. He's also quite fond of overhead shots, but some, including the film's opening and closing shots, are bursting with subtext and meaning. While it might seem like Garrone is commenting on the unfortunate side effects of the reality TV revolution, the film's themes feel more universal than that. Shots of Luciano almost lusting after Enzo, the star of the most recent Big Brother season, speak more toward the nature of celebrity-how fickle it is, how close it is to us now. Because we can speed up the process nowadays, it gives people like Luciano unreasonable expectations, feeding the sometimes deluded notion that they deserve the adoration of the masses. Reality filters all these ideas into one sad individual. It's a character study of the highest order.

John Gilpatrick
John Gilpatrick

A fishmonger from Naples loses his grip on reality as he waits to hear back from his audition for the Italian version of the "Big Brother" TV show. Slow but rich, with layers of satire and allegory and great long tracking shots of glorious Naples.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

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