Valerio Mieli’s “Ricordi?” (Remember) is a meditation on a romance between an unnamed couple (Linda Caridi and Luca Marinelli) over a course of time in which events are seen through the prism of their respective memories.
As the relationship unravels they often remember moments and details differently and from personal viewpoints that converge and often conflict. The Knockturnal reporter spoke to the writer-director at a luncheon at the Leopard at des Artists, after a few glasses of wine. The film screened at Open Roads: New Italian Cinema.
The Knockturnal: Why did you decide audiences would seen events from his and her viewpoints individually and contradict each other?
Valerio Mieli: In this film we don’t know how things really happen. We only have this subjective point of view. We never have the objective point of view. We never know what really happened. We don’t know how the world is. We just know how he experienced the world and how she experienced the world.
The Knockturnal: Why did you decide not to give them names? Were they an archetypal couple?
Valerio Mieli: Well, yeah. The reason is I didn’t think about it so rationally. It’s more universal, I liked also the idea of the scene where they tell each other their names and we don’t hear it… To leave them a sort of intimacy, they don’t have the rest of the time… And in this scene they tell each other things that we don’t understand. And then they tell each other their names. So I liked the idea of this scene and of the privacy we give them. Also we don’t really know when the film takes place. We don’t really know where it is. Yes, it’s Rome but there are no cars. Everything is a world which is a little bit abstract. It’s an abstract world. And it’s an abstract time. It’s closer to what we have in our minds. When we have a memory, the memory selects some important aspects of memory that are mysterious and specific. You might remember the color of their eyes, a smell.You see only the important aspects.
The Knockturnal: Is the story inspired by a personal relationship you had?
Valerio Mieli: No, no. Not by one relationship. It’s reflective of my experience of life and love. What happens to the man in the relationship is that he comes to discover that you can see the world in a different way, and also thanks to her he discovers that maybe his childhood was not so sad and that the sad memories he had are probably not truthful.
The Knockturnal: These are very different people. How did you decide to even get them together? He’s a bit of a downer guy and she’s an optimist right?
Valerio Mieli: At the beginning he has a tormented vision of life. She has an optimistic vision of life. But also during the film, we see it again, this first time they meet and he changed so because it’s something that happens. The emotion that you had when you remember something like the first time I saw someone after three months, six months, or six years or sixteen years. It’s different. It’s altered. And I think that the cool idea of the film is that what we cannot really rely on what we remember and what we think and it’s important to see what other people think and remember and maybe the right interpretation is something in between. And all the film doubts, the story has as if it was something private. Actually we have the private world, which is his world, sad world, and her world which is a happy world. So, the idea at the beginning should be everyone has his private vision of the world, and they are not comparable. But then you discover them if you put together two persons there is a strong relationship, they influence each other. And so they are not private, they are not private anymore because my vision of life can change yours, and your vision of life can change mine. So, he becomes happier, and he starts to remember things, positive things of his childhood that he had forgotten. Or maybe he makes them up. We don’t know. And she does the opposite. She starts to see the world in a different way, thanks to the relationship with him.
The Knockturnal: I watched the movie to the very end, and maybe I got it wrong, but I had the feeling that there’s some chance they will get back together. Is that a possibility?
Valerio Mieli: I think so. Yes. But I didn’t want to close the film about this. I wanted the film to be more about memory than about the love story. So the last part when you have this animation of the memory, animation of the music, and then memories coming was to say okay, what is really, really important to me is, yes the theme about memories and that is even more important than if they stay together or not. But, I didn’t want people to think no, that is not possible, it won’t work. I think it will work. I hope it will work. We hear a voice coming from the future saying, “I do remember, it’s knowing it was not knowing,” so I can imagine that they got together in the future.
The Knockturnal: On another tack, what do you like to do in New York for fun?
Valerio Mieli: I walk. Yesterday, I went from here to Williamsburg. And oh yes, eat, I ate in a Ukrainian restaurant on the Lower East Side. I really like to walk and to meet people. And to see different big cities like New York. It is a completely different world, fascinating and people talk to you. In Rome you don’t see it so much.