Perhaps the most questionable prospect heading into this Cannes Film Festival is Matteo Garrone's follow-up to the acclaimed "Gomorrah". "Reality", fitfully set in the world of Italian reality television, seems to be receiving mixed receptions from around the Croisette, some coming into it with open arms, while others receive it as something of a disappointment. Then again, this is very likely to be the case on most Cannes films, but I'm not trying to advocate for any films that I haven't seen yet. The news of a satirically minded film hitting Cannes is enough to pique my interest, and some reviews prove rather encouraging to the prospect.
Drew McWeeny (Hitfix): "My only hesitation is that while I would compare this to Martin Scorsese's "King Of Comedy," it feels like it's missing a final beat that would punctuate the story perfectly. Even so, there is a haunting quality to the wrap-up, and the dark laughs the film inspires got caught in my throat at times because of just how raw Arena is as Luciano. His palpable longing and his visible deflation will stick with me, as will Matteo's sincere disdain for modern values. "Reality" continues my Cannes streak, and I have no doubt it will be embraced as another major statement from an artist worth our time and attention."
Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian): "As in numberless big-screen accounts of the small-screen, the keyword is irony. The delusions of people who long to be on TV are ironic and pretty sad — of course. Playing up for a TV audience is a chimera, a dangerous unreality, compared with having an actual relationship with your family and community. In Gomorrah, the idea of "community" was a challengingly dark and complex one, riven with parasitism and violence. Here, community values are much sunnier and simpler, and the scam Luciano's running on the side is naturally pretty much a victimless crime."
Ryan Adams (Awards Daily): "Garrone’s last film, Gomorrah, was about the reality of the Sicilian mob. It sought to disrobe the criminals for who and what they really were, to peel back the romanticism from films like The Godfather and Goodfellas. Gomorrah succeeded there but was a tough sit. So you might think Reality is a far cry from the nearly unwatchable violence of that film, but it really isn’t so far away since both films deal with exposing the truth about an insular world. Reality is easier to handle, though you do still have the sense that you are on the streets in Sicily, not watching a movie. The religious symbolism is peppered throughout — are we watching Job, as some critics have proclaimed on Twitter. Or are we watching a man who believes himself to be God — the little people who live in the Big Brother house are remade in his image."
David Jenkins (Little White Lies): "REALITY (Garrone) Piss-weak, outdated slab of Fellini-lite on venality of reality TV. A breezy watch, but plot holes the size of Cinecittá."