The journey through Italy of the Italian singer and director Luciano Ligabue – as if it were a parable – begins with a piece of fantasy. First, the darkness. Then, the hoarse and omnipresent voice of the singer who interprets, almost like a prophecy, the song “Everyone calls me Riko.” With the light comes the star, the alter ego, the actor / character: Stefano Accorsi in the role of Riko, dressed as a Tony Manero of the Far west, who dances on the stage in front of a giant piece of mortadella, in absolute solitude. While Riko tries to keep up and the image moves in the limit between playful, dreamlike and sad, we discover that in that scene, everything is Made in Italy: the nostalgia of something that is not, or perhaps never existed, living out of time, cinema as an escape route and music – in the style of Bjork in “Dancer in the dark” – as a suspended and untouchable dimension where there is always room for a new life.
Once the lights go out, the dark reality appears: Riko has never been a star, but a common man, who works in a butcher shop, has been married for many years to Sara (Kasia Smutniak), from whom he turns away Apparently, he tries to pick up the pieces of a life that escapes him and he has a teenage son who seems more determined than himself. Riko lives her midlife crisis in an obvious way, with all possible clichés, suspended between two worlds to which she does not belong, with the will of youth but a body that does not accompany her, looking back while realizing that It has never had a clear purpose for the future. As if it were a video clip, or a song from the same Ligabue, Riko moves always followed by a soundtrack, looking for something that she cannot recognize but knows she is missing.
The force that keeps Made in Italy in motion, which prevents it from being lost in banality and pop melodies, is precisely the friction between the different times: that which follows the natural flow and that the characters want to control, even if they never succeed . On one of the many car trips on the way to the bar, Riko asks his best friend – depressive and ludopata, but who calls himself Carnival – why he has a calendar five years ago in the car. Carnival smiles, maybe he hadn’t even noticed. While the car moves through the center of Bologna and the image becomes slower, in the corner there is a group of young people who dance enthusiasts, each connected to their cell phone, sharing the space, but not the music. The contrast between the two images, frenzy and slowness, past and future of the same reality, becomes the most interesting turning point of the film: time progresses, dimensions change, but have we changed? Or maybe we are a continuous line, without beginning or end? Concerns that Riko, at the end of the film, arises in this way: “If human cells change completely every seven years, how do we remain the same?”
Made in Italy has the peculiarity of being able to be so many things at the same time; A tribute to Italy, a love story or the portrait of a generation. But above all, like life itself, it is made of moments, seconds, micro stories. Like that of a group of friends who decide to go to Rome to stop and observe closely the ruins of the empire and others, and then ends up inertia in a violent demonstration where, rather than following an ideal, they are moved to fight . Or perhaps it is born from the need to express a feeling, to confess without fear the contradictions and frustrations themselves, hoping, that instead of being trapped in the dimension of a dream, the ideals will one day come true.