Directed by: Daniele Luchetti | 98 minutes | drama | Actors: Elio Germano, Isabella Ragonese, Raoul Bova, Stefania Montorsi, Luca Zingaretti, Giorgio Colangeli, Alina Berzunteanu, Marius Ignat, Awa Ly, Emiliano Campagnola
Claudio (Elio Germano) is a foreman on a building complex. He is still deeply in love with his wife Elena (Isabella Ragonese). Elena is pregnant with their third. Nothing seems to threaten their lives and the strong family and friendship ties. They are perfectly happy. When the birth announces itself unexpectedly, disaster strikes and Elena dies. Despair, despair and anger compete for the hardest in Claudio. Initially, the anger over the loss of his wife dominates, which is impressively depicted in a strongly accentuated funeral scene. His life seems to be a pool of misery.
The story mainly focuses on the way in which Claudio further designs his future. He urgently needs money and wants a profitable completion project as a subcontractor. To this end, he more or less blackmails the main contractor, because Claudio has previously discovered that he had a dead illegal worker buried in an unfinished elevator shaft in order to prevent the construction project from being halted.
He borrows the money needed to pay his workers from a drug dealer, but complications cannot be avoided in such a setting. Claudio hires cheap illegal workers, but the project takes longer than expected and the client pays too late. The complications increase further when wife Gabriela (Alina Madalina Berzunteanu) and son Andrei (Marius Ignat) of the killed worker turn up; they want to know where it is. Distress of conscience begins to gnaw, but playing open cards could get him in trouble. Claudio denies knowing anything, but to ease his conscience, he offers Andrei a job.
The developments in the scenario that follow are sometimes somewhat artificial. Racial tensions between illegal workers and Italian welfare recipients (who, of course, want to earn extra money) and further amicable relations between Gabriela, Andrei and Claudio are being played somewhat blatantly. The scenario could have had a little more depth and finesse at such moments. However, the strong lead role by Elio Germano fully compensates for these downsides.
It is in line with expectations that developments will eventually take a positive direction. Yet despite these slightly critical comments, the film itself can be fully enjoyed. The atmosphere is good, Claudio’s two sons play naturally and convincingly. The fine camera work is close to the skin and shot out of hand.
At the Cannes Film Festival, ‘La nostra vita’ was nominated for the Palme d’Or 2010. Leading actor Elio Germano won the Award for Best Actor for his role as Claudio (a prize he shared with Javier Bardem for his role in ‘ Biutiful ‘). “La Nostra Vita” is a sympathetic and warm film for a wide audience: drama and comedy with bittersweet humor.