The 2019 Italian-American-Greek arthouse drama was written and directed by Abel Ferrara. It’s the story of Tommaso ( Willem Dafoe ), a U immigrant, now residing in Rome, and the life he lives.
Tommaso, six years sober is now married to his somewhat estranged Russian wife, Nikki ( Cristina Chiriac ), who is much younger than he is. He also has a three year old daughter. He’s a warmhearted man, sure he’s made mistakes, but he’s learned from them and is trying to live his life as well as he can. Having had a long career in filmmaking, he now teaches acting and even counsils English speakers at a rehab group. He now spends his time as a screenwriter, writing a story involving eskimos.
Everything’s going well for him, until he finds himself handcuffed, getting escorted to a high-ranking criminal. After warned of his actions regarding a temple, he turns to deep meditation. Afterwards, the film seemingly turns back to it’s former tone. With the exception of a few “bizarre” scenes in the movie, which are most likely figments of Tommaso’s imagination.
The rest of the film is made up of little, mostly self-contained scenes. An encounter with a noisy drunk, an annoyed call with his wife, an imaginary scene of his daughter getting run over, things like that.
Ultimately, things come to the worse. Nikki doesn’t love him anymore. This all ends in Tommaso shooting a man and hanging himself on a cross in public. As bizarre as this ending sounds, the end.
The film took a completely unexpected genre-shift about 30 minutes into the film, going from innocent low-budget arthouse film, to spiritual crime thriller in seemingly seconds. The ended, in seemingly seconds. Almost as if Ferrera forgot to remove a scene from a drastically different version of the script.
To a degree, the film represents Willem Dafoe’s real life. Like Tammaso, Dafoe currently resides in Rome with his wife. Though of course it’s not a perfect picture of his life, a lot of what is shown feels genuine. All of this being largely on part to just how good of an actor and storyteller Dafoe is. Several scenes in the movie didn’t even feel like acting, rather some sort of behind the scenes documentary footage.
Despite sometimes not knowing exactly what genre it belonged to, Tommaso was a pleasent little film I managed to stumble on. I’d give it a 6.5/10