Reality begins in surreal splendor: a golden carriage, like something out of a storybook, pulled by white steeds along sun-splashed streets, away from the traffic and thrum of the city.
Finally, a couple emerge - into a cheesy theme park setting of fountains and gardens and statuary, where the man and woman, with great expense and excess, are to be wed.
Fellini-esque? You betcha.
One of the guests at the ceremony is Luciano (Aniello Arena), a humble fishmonger. Humble, but relentless: When he spots the reality TV star Enzo (Raffaele Ferrante), Luciano turns into a crazed stalker. And "crazed," in Reality, is the operative word.
Strikingly different, in tone and theme, from Matteo Garrone's grim and fascinating gangster pic, Gomorrah, the director's Reality is a dark allegorical comedy about the nature of fame, about obsession, about madness - and the point where they converge: on Big Brother, a TV show watched by millions.
Luciano wants nothing more than to be a participant in the new season, and he is confident he will be chosen. So confident, in fact, that he sells off his fish stall, setting him and his wife on a course of financial calamity. But no worries - once he's on Big Brother he'll be famous, he'll be rich, all will be right with the world.
Shot in sweeping, colorful tableaux by cinematographer Marco Onorato, Reality has a dreamlike quality that suits - and reflects - the dreams of its protagonist. Does he get on Big Brother? Do all his fantasies come true?
What do you think?
Contact Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies.