IL CAIMANO (THE CAIMAN) (Nanni Moretti). 112 minutes. Subtitled. At the Royal, Friday to Wednesday (June 15-20). Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
Il Caimano is the story of down-and-out film producer Bruno Bonomo (Silvio Orlando), who's desperately trying to pull together a new project, The Return Of Columbus, after a 10-year dry spell. During that decade he's been fighting off his creditors and attending retrospectives of his films, all of which have wonky exploitation titles.
Suddenly, a young woman shows up with a script called The Caiman, which he, being who he is, reads with half an eye and sees a thriller when in fact it's a political exposé about Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister and media mogul.
The film follows Bruno's attempts to pull together both the film and his family, which is threatened by his wife's desire for a separation.
The basic problem is that Bruno is a decent (for a producer) and hard-working, if ineffectual, loser - essentially an uninteresting character.
At the end, his star and producers having deserted him, he only has enough money to film a few scenes from the end of the script, which we get to see. Director Nanni Moretti plays the replacement star in the Berlusconi role, and the last five minutes of the picture are a brilliant pastiche of Francesco Rosi's political thrillers of the 70s, with Moretti a compelling presence and Franco Piersanti's score a perfect knockoff of the kind of music Ennio Morricone used to churn out by the yard.
I wish I'd spent the previous 90 minutes watching that movie rather than the one Moretti made.