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Dolce Far Niente

average rating is 4 out of 5


James Learoyd


Posted on:

Mar 29, 2024

Film Reviews
Dolce Far Niente
Directed by:
Michael Antonio Keane
Written by:
Michael Antonio Keane
Michael Antonio Keane, Cristina Filippone, Susy Serra

The rather enigmatically titled Dolce Far Niente (Sweet Doing Nothing) poses some thoughtful questions, yet it’s the way in which they’re presented that makes this short feel unique in many ways. It depicts an incredibly personal, romantic tale of a young Irish writer staying in Italy. He narrates his activities as he wanders the streets, enjoys nature, and interacts with the various people around him, but narratively this is represented through recollective fragments. I was reminded of the reflective narration often used in the beautiful works of Éric Rohmer.


The film presents us with a great many visual idiosyncrasies to enjoy. Perhaps, most notably, there is frequent use of a filter which distorts and blurs a lot of the image. Being a practical, lens-based effect as opposed to something added in post-production really gives it a vintage look which also suites the Italian streets and landscapes we’re being shown. Its purpose is also to fragment the image, like the structure of the narrative, as if being viewed through a very specific perspective – one whose thoughts are always playing a part.


There are also some wonderful compositions, particularly when it comes to the opening few shots, which hold a patience and softness to them, using the buildings to frame the lovely blue of the sky (it all feels very Call Me by Your Name). These novelties certainly elevate the piece to a level that it otherwise would not reach. The only issues, aesthetically, come in moments wherein, for whatever reason, the shutter-speed is randomly a lot faster than a previous shot (as to compensate for an excess of light): it’s slightly too digital a look that doesn’t match the whole romantic, wistful atmosphere.


The editing has an alluring, stream of consciousness style, a fluidity that feels quite like a modernist novel. This style of sporadic cutting also provides a dynamic style for the viewer to enjoy – in fact, a lot of the film’s substance can be found in the form more than the story and themes themselves. With such ambitious editing and creatively stimulating cinematography, it’s easy to overlook certain story flaws, but they exist nevertheless...


Message and story-wise, the short elicits some mixed feelings. On the one hand, there’s a pleasing (if slightly easy) message about self-love and acceptance, although one could argue that the narration doesn’t probe any deeper than that nice surface level. It all works very smoothly; very neatly. It simply could have been more thought-provoking with some more self-reflective, emotionally complex messaging. In addition to this, having Italy be the location for our story, you would think this may offer an explicit purpose or maybe even political commentary or allegory, yet it’s all quite clean and apolitical.


But to conclude, there’s a beautiful atmosphere on display in Dolce Far Niente. Not every short possesses this degree of editorial and visual creativity, thus, for that reason alone, it’s more than worth a watch. The film’s a wonderful effort and, most importantly, demonstrates a love for using the cinematic form to discuss the internal.

About the Film Critic
James Learoyd
James Learoyd
Short Film
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