La tigre e la neve (The Tiger and the Snow) Reviews
La tigre e la neve wasn't really what I expected at all. It proved short on comedy and was rarely funny, succeeding more in the dramatic area. Yet it felt at times like it tried to be a comedy, but its sequence of pre-Baghdad romantic comedy is lacking in humour in originality. It all feels too forced, and so until the story kicks off into its Baghdad setting the film just doesn't have enough positive qualities to really go anywhere.
Also, and this is only problematic because I don't speak Italian, the actors in La tigre e la neve speak a bit too fast and since I had to read subtitles to keep up with it so that the acting was genuine instead of being as savaged as it was in his previous film Pinocchio where the dubbing was the worst possible in existence. It's somewhat difficult to keep up with the pace the actors talk at for a while, and the more slow readers of the crowds may find that on that basis single handily that La tigre e la neve is not a film they have enjoyed.
Also, the story suffers from the fact that much of the context isn't clarified until the last scene in the film which leaves an unsatisfying ambiguity to the film.
And lastly, the plot of La tigre e la neve is quite a retread of the story in La Vita e Bella, and while that is undeniably one of the single greatest movies I have ever seen in my life it means that the originality in La tigre e la neve isn't all that much unfortunately. Roberto Benigni and Vincenzo Cerami manage to write a few surprises into the story here and there, but the story is largely a retread which is pretty strange because La Vita e Bella was an eccentric film that walked a tricky line in the first place, so to re-explore that material is to like a literal example of reinventing the wheel, albeit to a lesser extent than the concept actually is.
But even though the material has many bumps in it, riding the exceptional directing talent that Roberto Benigni helms, La tigre e la neve succeeds in many areas.
Once the story changes its context to Baghdad, it kicks off. It becomes compelling and meaningful, and from that point on the protagonist becomes a character easy to care about following through his misadventures in occupied Baghdad during the Iraq war. Eventually it evolves into a passionate romantic drama against the complex dramatic backdrop of facing death, and while it is only sporadically funny La tigre e la neve does manage to ties its story together about an hour in and transition into becoming a better film than it seemed to be at first, and much better than it could have been. It isn't as funny as you would hope, but there is no denying the effect of the dramatic themes as well as some of the humourous moments such as the satirical look at American troops. Many Americans deemed it offensive, but since it was their own troops who invaded Iran they should be willing to face whatever criticism and satire they are dealt for the actions of their military and government. I'm probably simplifying things, but El tigre e la neve is barely as offensive as many melodramatic critics will tell you, and it isn't half as bad either because only Roberto Benigni can handle a plot that many have deemed "ludicrious" and make it actually believable.
And visually, La tigre e la neve is a great experience.
The scenery is flawlessly convincing of its setting, and considering the real drama going on during the occupation of Baghdad it makes the whole experience a lot more convincing and therefore more dramatically effective, and it is all shot with some beautifully smooth cinematography which is astounding in quality and is strongly atmospheric. And combined with the beautiful Academy Award nomination worthy musical score and a song by Tom Waits in his cameo, it succeeds from an auditory perspective as well as a visual one making it an all round successfully atmospheric venture into the heart of themes of war and love in one of the most complex fashions that only Robert Benigni himself could actually handle with such gusto and success.
Roberto Benigni's lead performance in La tigre e la neve proved to be packed with the same kind of talent that won him the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in La Vita e Bella, even though it doesn't come as close since I deem that to be the greatest acting performance by anyone in the history of cinema. In La tigre e la neve he has all the appropriate energy for the dramatic context of the film while also maintaining his natural comedic heart as he journeys through the story, and he directs himself to another grand performance.
Nicoletta Braschi's performance doesn't have much screen time, but when she is around her beautiful smile lively face manages to add a lot of spirit to the film, and her chemistry with Roberto Benigni is good.
All in all, La Tigre e la neve fails to match up to the immensely successful heights reached by Roberto Benigni's Academy Award winning feature La Vita e Bella, but once it improves in its second act it becomes a memorable experience as a complicated story and a visually striking film.
Jean Reno plays a friend of theirs who returns to Bagdad and comes to a tragic end. Recociliation may occur after the wife is seriously injured while in Bagdad with the friend. The husband comes to her side and shows desperate hope that she'll recover and she does but apparently unaware that he was at her side until much later when back home and we see the moment she revived occur in this very different context and her realization of something she remembered and/or experienced. 10/10
I disagree with alleged critics G. Allen Johnson, V.A. Musetto, Kevin Thomas, and the others who cannot seem to find anything positive to say about this film. Fire all of them.