Classes crash in Paolo Virzi’s lashing satiric drama, along with bikes and SUVs and the fortunes and dreams of the haves and the wanna-have-mores. Virzi opens his stylish, sometimes funny tale with a god’s-eye view of the aftermath of some confab of swells, with the cleanup crew brooming confetti.
As regular folks attend to the messes the rich leave behind, Virzi’s camera glides outside in stately, headlong motion. A cyclist bikes down a twisting hillside roadway, cars surge through the night, and how exactly that cyclist gets knocked over a bluff we’ll have to wait to discover. From there, Virzi splits the narrative into three POV chapters: We follow one character awhile, then double back to follow another, with some scenes revisited and illuminated.
The most arresting is the middle section, concerning Clare (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), the restless wife of a hedge-fund billionaire. As she searches for a way to set his not-exactly-honorable wealth to meaningful use, she must make agonizing choices once her son (Guglielmo Pinelli) is accused of being the driver who hit the cyclist. The son is the erstwhile boyfriend of Serena, played by the marvelous Matilde Gioli.
Serena wrestles movingly with the truth of the accident in the film’s final third; but everything’s complicated by her clownish father (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), who has wormed into a foolish investment with Clare’s husband — a hedge fund predicated on the country’s greater failure. Virzi laces these threads together tight as a garrote, which he wraps about the necks of his characters and audience.
The biggest suspense: As everything gets worse for everyone, will this consummate director’s outraged worldview afford anyone any pity? At first you’ll seethe — then your heart will ache.