A Salvific Descent into the Es (by Daniele Rocca)

At the center of this new short film by Christian Candido, already the author of the remarkable Red Shift (2009) and Red Shift (2021 Rework), is the theme of the intelligence of technology. Announced by Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) and definitively landed in big cinema with Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), it is transposed by Candido on a symbolic plane, directed to other ends and reinterpreted with disenchantment and irony, in an "urban fairy tale set to music" with a Turin setting.

The mood of the film, its enigmatic aura, shines through from the opening images, in which the bright long shot over the Gran Madre bridge and Piazza Vittorio alternates with splendid details, such as that of the cobblestones between the streetcar tracks in Piazza Vittorio, sprinkled with a soft light.

Already with the mishap from which the story originates and the existential revolution that will constitute its axis, that is, with the meeting between a young bartender, Pepi (Francesca Annicchiarico) and the radio Boom (voiced by Manuela Villanova), we witness the displacement of the narrative discourse on that ridge where magic realism and science fiction are in communication.

The approach is consolidated with the use of the subjective for Boom, who filters reality in his own perspective, as when Hal 9000 in the famous scene of 2001 read the lips of the two astronauts after the latter, caught in an embryonic suspicion, had disabled their listening faculties. The directing technique employed in this regard in Boombox is that of image jamming, as if they were being incamerated by a different frequency than our own, and the effect is alienating; in the same way as when the radio, unveiling once and for all its angelic nature, drags Pepi inside a building, down its stairs, toward a destiny different from the alienation in which he lives. It is thanks to this initiative that Pepi finds himself within the cozy walls of a dance school, where warm tones dominate, both in colors and music, as opposed to the blue and jarring of the city at night, as if there is a secret city, seemingly buried, but alive, within that in which one believes one lives, however at the same time, day after day, one is extinguished.

The descent into the domain of the Id offers the protagonist the chance to heal the relational wounds to which she now seemed doomed and to find, deep within herself, through that mirror of her inner world that is the world of the ballroom, the regenerative energy capable of saving her. There, in fact, everything is at once less predictable and clearer: could we be surprised that it is the guys in the club (first Alex, played by Chiara Doria) and not the algid, skeptical and opportunistic roommate Stella (Alessia Debandi) who understands that the radio held in the newly arrived girl's arms is a Boombox? In this part, too, a magical realism emerges, lending further charm to the work, which is already enhanced by careful cinematography and lively editing but in tune with the soft camera movements.

Confirming the passage into another dimension, that of salvation in desire, to the guardians of the underground realm Pepi does not report her name, but decides to rename herself.

She will be "Salsa." Not only that.

Even the last obstacles of the outside world are reduced to harmless echoes. When they invite her to dance, significantly the girl responds with a listing of duties recalled, in a hilarious sequence-pastiche, by short scenes that are delineated in her imagination as so many dictates of the Super Ego-the final twists of her many masks, painful and inevitable.

He cannot, he cannot, he has no time. But after all, she wants to.

She is left with one qualm, the fear that she cannot dance since she would lack "preparation." Then Felix (master of the dance school with the speaking name, the excellent Cristian Audino) explains to her that that is a particular compartment, and he leads her to the inner ballroom, the very heart of that world of desire and instinct: here preparation is not needed, since the codes have no use, they have dissolved, and Salsa, despite her previous hesitation, will dance with him for a long time, indeed, perhaps for her life that evening will have further developments: indeed, it must be noted that the fading alternation between chiaroscuro of warm and cold colors in the dance scene suggests the achieved synthesis between the dimensions of existing and being, the world outside and the world inside, a welding that marks the fulfillment of an evolution.

A new Alice, Pepi has passed beyond the looking glass, stepped into the well of desires, and her fairy tale veers toward a happy ending. After all, Panta rei, everything flows, as the name of the bar where Pepi works goes.

In the last scene, the return to heaven of what has descended from heaven brings to completion the set of suggestions that dot the short film: it is on closer inspection logical that a story built around the idea of verticality closes, with perfect semantic coherence, on this very image.


Daniele Rocca

Daniele Rocca was a contributor to the magazine "Belfagor" from 2001 to 2011 and to the "Index of the Books of the Month" from 1999 to 2019, a teacher of Literary Subjects and History of Cinema in high school, he is also the author of books in the fields of history and political thought.