In Memoria Di Me is director Saverio Costanzos second feature film and stars Christo Jivkov (Andrea) who, is possibly best known for his performance as John in Mel Gibsons The Passion of the Christ.
Jivkovs character in this Constanzos latest film finds himself disillusioned with life, deciding to undertake the novitiate a time of spiritual training that a person undergoes in order to discern whether or not they are called to the religious life.
When Andrea arrives at the Jesuit monastery (shot at the beautiful San Giorgio Maggiore near Venice) he is encouraged to report on his fellow novices if they do not perform according to the scriptures and the rules.
The monastery becomes Andreas world, a place of silence, reading and prayers. The only communal time is at dinner, but even here, the novices do not communicate with each other. The only time they do speak is at the daily sermons and when they are publicly highlighting each others failings.
There are four other main characters; the Superior (Andrea Henneke), the Father Master (Marco Baliani), and two other novices, Fausto (Fausto Russo Alesi) and Zanna (Filippo Timi). Both Fausto and Zanna have doubts about the ways of the novitiate and both men later leave (or are told to leave) the monastery in the middle of the night.
This film attempts an insightful intensity but sadly falls far short, lacking any real profundity. Silence plays a large part of the film, leaving us to rely on the expressions of the actors and, unfortunately Jivkovs is mostly expressionless. His inner struggles and emotions remain indecipherable, leaving the audience as distant and remote as the monasterys initiates, with only the musical score providing the film with an emotional context.
Filippo Timi scores the most points for his believable performance as Zanna and his was the only character that succeeded in creating any empathy.
The cinematography (by Mario Amura) is simple, with little use of colour which seems to reflect the monotonous and ritualistic life of the novices. There is an air of mystery to the film, what with the lack of dialogue and the countless shots of the monasterys long stretches of empty corridor, but its a mystery that doesnt unravel and ends up soulless and bereft.
Even the ending is left undecided and ambiguous: whether Andrea will survive the novitiate it not determined. In Memoria Di Me doesnt pose or answer any new questions about spirituality and therefore this film will have a very limited appeal.