Posted by schnolis on February 1st, 2009 filed in Reviews

CIAOI saw the trailer for Ciao a half dozen times over the past few weeks. Despite the fact I try to ignore trailers, I saw enough of this one to get a sense of what Ciao was trying to accomplish. I suppose it mostly did. It wasn’t an especially ambitious movie. It didn’t do very much else, either. There was no real tension and very little excitement in a low-budget movie with amateur actors.

The story was a pretty simple one. The main character, Jeff (Adam Neal Smith), has a very heavy burden. His best friend Mark (Chuck Blaum) just died in a car accident. Jeff assumes the responsibility of emailing Mark’s contacts and letting them know what happened. In the process, he discoveres a secret relationship that Mark had been hiding from him. Through email and phone calls, Mark had been carrying on a long-distance friendship with Andrea (Alessandro Calza), an Italian who was planning to visit Mark just a few weeks after the accident.

Jeff invites Andrea to come out anyway, and the two of them spend a sad weekend talking about Mark and his influence on their lives. The two of them form an intense bond and start what appears to be a hopeful relationship.

The story itself is pretty simple, and the movie avoids any the clutter of pretty much any subplots. Unfortunately, though, the movie fills in the gaps in the story with awkward silent periods. The camera work is all but non existent. Every scene plays out the same way. First we observe some location. Then the actors come into the shot and do their scene. And then the camera stays on about half a minute too long, with any characters doing nothing. The lighting is terrible in most scenes, though that could be based on the fact that our movie appeared to be projected from a DVD source. There are moments, too, where the dialog is completely unnatural. The timing is hardly great with any actor, but the few extras in the movie are abysmal. It felt like an after school special at times, or the jittery attempt of a rookie filmmaker.

What I liked: A really tender story and a relationship that doesn’t devolve completely into sex and love. Some sweet moments and people I could have liked given time.

What I disliked: The amateur feel to everything. The terrible colors and lighting. Having non-actors speaking in your movie.

Rating: 3 of 10

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