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#TIFF21 Review: Three Floors (Special Presentations)

September 17, 2021

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

The latest work from Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti, who won the Palme d’Or for The Son’s Room two decades ago, Three Floors is a watchable but somewhat mediocre multi-character drama that follows the denizens of an apartment complex in Rome as their stories collide, sometimes literally.

The film opens with the pregnant Monica (Alba Rohrwacher) going into labour in the street and trying to get to the hospital. A drunk driver, Andréa (Alessandro Sperduti), swerves to avoid hitting her and ends up killing a pedestrian with his car, before crashing into the home of his downstairs neighbours Lucio (Riccardo Scamarcio) and Sara (Elena Lietti). This theme of death and new life runs throughout the film, which spans multiple characters in their orbit and unfolds over about a decade with two five year jumps ahead.

Andréa is the son of a prominent judge (Moretti) who wants nothing to do with him after the accident, while his mother Dora (Margherita Buy) struggles with the prospect of losing her son. Lucio and Sara have a young daughter, Francesca (Chiara Abalsamo), that they frequently leave in the care of their elderly neighbours Renato (Paolo Graziosi) and Giovanna (Anna Bonaiuto). But Renato is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and when he wanders away with Francesca one night and gets lost in the park, Lucio becomes convinced, without any basis, that he sexually abused her.

This causes extreme tension between the two neighbouring families, which is complicated by the arrival of Renato and Giovanna’s teenaged granddaughter Charlotte (Denise Tantucci). Lucio starts spending an inappropriate amount of time with her, leading to the most questionable and, for lack of a better word, problematic storyline. Meanwhile, Monica is struggling to navigate motherhood on her own, with a husband (Adriano Giannini) who is mostly away for work, and a sleazy brother-in-law (Stefano Dionisi) trying to inch his way back into their lives.

Based on a novel by Israeli author Eshkol Nevo, the plotting in Three Floors often feels heavy-handed, unfolding through a series of highly contrived plot developments that weave these characters in and out of each other’s lives. The performances are mostly decent if unremarkable, and it visually has the look and feel of a TV movie. Moretti’s film is unabashedly melodramatic and dips into soap opera territory quite frequently, but, as far as these things go, it’s fine enough for what it is and for the most part held my attention while watching it.

Public Screenings:

Wednesday, September 15th – 6:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox

Thursday, September 16h – 1:00 PM at digital TIFF Bell Lightbox (Canada)

Saturday, September 18h – 5:00 PM at digital TIFF Bell Lightbox (Canada)

The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 9th to 18th.

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