vera-2022-covi-frimmel-review

VERA

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by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel

grade: 8

Vera is not simply a film with Vera Gemma. Vera is first and foremost a film about Vera Gemma and for Vera Gemma. The protagonist – with her flashy clothes and long blonde hair – is quite magnetic and immediately captures the viewer’s attention from the very first frames, before showing herself to the audience with all her weaknesses and incredible humanity.

Finally Vera

Cinema, be it fiction or documentary cinema, allows us to experience realities we could never have imagined. But if, from the very origins of cinema, fiction and reality have often merged, sometimes becoming almost a single entity within which we find it difficult to distinguish the two parts, this trend has become a real trademark of Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel‘s filmography. Just think, for example, of Vera, their newest feature film, which premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival in competition in the Orizzonti section.

In Vera, we never really know where reality ends and fiction begins. The characters present themselves before the camera as they are, without any filter, and as the story unfolds, they show themselves to the audience with all their weaknesses and their incredible humanity. Vera Gemma, therefore, is the great protagonist of this feature film of theirs. And immediately we realise that it would be a mistake to consider her simply as the daughter of the great Giuliano Gemma. Undoubtedly, the figure of her father has always influenced her life and career, but the self-image she has built over the years is, in fact, totally different from her true essence.

Vera lives in downtown Rome, often attends VIP parties and struggles to find work in the film industry. For everyone she is ‘Giuliano Gemma’s daughter’ and many exploit her generosity and need for love to obtain favours and advantages. When, following a car accident on the outskirts of Rome, she unintentionally injures a child who was travelling on a scooter with his father, she will do anything to help his family, almost becoming part of it. Things, however, will soon take an unexpected turn.

Vera, therefore, is not simply a film with Vera Gemma. Vera is first and foremost a film about Vera Gemma and for Vera Gemma. The protagonist – with her flashy clothes and long blond hair – is quite magnetic and immediately captures the viewer’s attention from the very first frames, when Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel’s camera follows her through the city streets on her way to a party. Now the time to enter the scene has finally come. Now it is time for the audience to get to know the lively and vulnerable Vera Gemma.

Extreme realism – made even more precious by the choice to shoot everything on film – is what most stands out. The shoulder camera follows the woman in a Zavattinian way during her days. A deep sense of loneliness is almost the co-star. Old amateur films in which we see the actor Giuliano Gemma on holiday at the seaside with his wife and two daughters are watched on a small television set. Above the protagonist’s bed, a big portrait of her father immediately inspires awe and makes us realise how significant he was to her.

Vera essentially tells us the story of a lonely woman. The story of a woman who is much more vulnerable and sensitive than she might initially seem. The story of a woman who has never been really understood. Not even by her own family. Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel have once again successfully shown us what lies “behind the scenes”. Their attentive and sensitive gaze has given us another story that we will not easily forget. Just as it was the case in the past with stories about circus performers (in Babooska, Mister Universo and La Pivellina), small Russian villages (in That’s All) or illegal card games in a mysterious underground Vienna (in Notes from the Underworld). Vera Gemma is an extraordinary protagonist whom we slowly learn to love. And thanks to Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel she appears on screen more alive than ever.

Original title: Vera
Directed by: Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 115’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Tizza Covi
Cinematography: Rainer Frimmel
Produced by: Vento Film

Info: the page of Vera on iMDb; the page of Vera on the website of the Austrian Film Commission; the page of Vera on the website of the Österreichisches Filminstitut; the page of Vera on labiennale.org