“The book will be a tremendous success, and success, as Liz Taylor used to say, is an excellent deodorant.”
Who are the glamorous actors and actresses, producers and screenwriters that are responsable for, or appear in the films we see on the silver screen? In this story, read for Italian lit month 2017, Pino Corrias takes us behind the scene’s of the new Roman Dolce Vita. Corrias’ main characters are Oscar Martello, president of his own film production company, come from nothing and who harbors the dream of buying and reviving Cinecittà:
“Oscar Martello is an extrovert. And extroverts generally kick up tremendous clouds of dust so they can then hide in them.”
There is Oscar’s friend, probably his only true friend, Andrea Serrano, a respected screenwriter with the power of turning stories of love and murder into moneymaking successes, and there is Jacaranda Rizzi, the lead actress in Martello’s latest film, No, I Won’t Surrender!:
She’d downed a bottle of wine and knocked down the level in the whisky bottle by three fingers. On the tray on the floor was a package of Xanax….. “Those two things don’t go well together,” Andrea told her, pointing at the Xanax and the bottle of Talisker. “No, they go together perfectly, as far as I’m concerned,” Jacaranda replied, again with that voice. The voice of a stupid little girl, thirty years old, drunk on whisky, and stunned by an excess of psychoactive meds.
The book begins near the end of the story with the destruction by fire of Oscar Martello’s sumptious Roman villa, full of his valuable paintings, leaving us to wonder who could have done it, before Corrias takes us back to the beginning of the story just before events accelerate towards the fire. In La Dolce Roma’s venal society where people would sell their souls for a chance to appear on screen, Oscar and Andrea’s long friendship seems to be an exception, they are sat drinking in Andrea’s apartment as Oscar explains just how bad and how much money he will loose because of his latest film “No I Won’t Surrender” starring the beautiful Jacaranda Rizzi, a film about the Mafia. Oscar has the idea of secretly sending Jacaranda to Paris with Andrea a week before the film’s release and of leaking to the press that Jacaranda has been kidnapped because of her role in this anti-Mafia film, thus raising public interest and saving the film. Andrea agrees to help his friend, it sounds fun and Oscar lends him his golden jaguar for the trip.
But who is Jacaranda really, how has she reached her role as a star in the corrupt Roman film industry and what is her relationship to Oscar? How did Oscar drag himself up from nothing to the top of the pinnacle and who did he squash to get there? What would happen if against all the odds Andrea falls in love with Jacaranda and learns that Oscar has used him, would their friendship survive? Corrias draws us a 21st century version of the Dolce Vita, the colourful world of the Roman film industry, it’s intrigues and how desperately the different people described will fight to keep what they have, fame, money or both.
There was nothing sweet about the dolce vita, it was horrendous. —DINO RISI
First published in Italian as ‘Dormiremo da Vecchi’ by Chiarelettere in 2015
Translated into English by Antony Shugaar as “We’ll Sleep when We’re Old” and published by Atria Books in 2017