La Sapienza

Jun 05 - Jun 11, 2015

(Eugène Green, 2014, France/Italy, DCP, 100 min)

Seattle Premiere!

An architecture lover’s dream come true, La Sapienza luxuriates in the awe-inspiring beauty of contemporary and baroque Italian architecture. Savoring every inch and angle of magnificent facades and interiors, the camera points us to the heavens in unforgettable panoramic shots. These breathtaking buildings are the backdrop to a story about a middle-aged couple whose passion is reignited by transformative encounters with a remarkable pair of teenaged siblings. Alexandre, an accomplished French architect, embarks on a research trip across Italy for a book on the 17th century master Francesco Borromini, who built the titular Church of St. Yves at La Sapienza in Rome. He is accompanied by Goffredo, a precocious 18-year-old eager to begin his own architectural studies. Meanwhile, Alexandre’s wife Alienor gets to know Goffredo’s sister Lavinia, a frail but highly perceptive young woman.

Laced with an incisively sardonic humor (including an ornery Australian tourist), La Sapienza is as flatly funny as it is formally composed. Green, a Locarno favorite (The Portuguese Nun, Toutes les nuits) continues to hone his formalist practice of deploying the visual constructs and artistic aspirations of Baroque theater, such as having characters face the camera during conversations with each other.

La Sapienza was inspired by Green’s interest in Borromini as well as in contemporary architecture and urban planning. In CinemaScope, Blake Williams writes that “Green creates in La Sapienza’s middle hour one of the great documents of an architect’s magisterial brilliance to appear in cinema.”


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