Mastandrea’s Debut is an Existential RIDE
Actor Valerio Mastandrea made his directorial debut with the melancholic and poetic film, Ride, that explores the way mourning can be more nonsensical than we expect it to be. Each individual processes pain in a different manner, and there is no correct or incorrect comportment to deal with the disorientation of losing a loved one.
The story portrays how Carolina, cannot cry for the loss of her husband. Everyone is baffled by the fact she is not shedding tears, including her son, friends, relatives and even herself. Her partner, Mauro Secondari, a young factory worker, fell and died on the job. Seven days have passed and the funeral is about to occur the following day.
Carolina’s ten-year-old child finds his mother’s behavior odd and reprimands her, saying that she seems to laugh it off (“Ride”), but what the movie is actually showing us, is how our spectacularized era envisages only sensationalistic reactions. Restrained behaviors are perceived as illogical. Yet pain itself is a labyrinth of irrationality. And even though contemporary society demands for an exponentially amplified perception of the world, at the same time, it weakens our emotional reaction towards everything we encounter.
The film, in parallel to this subtle critique, explores the theme of worker fatalities — that is summed up by the words of a character who says: “you die at war, not while working.” Each year, in every country, thousands of employees die on the job, most commonly on construction sites. The high toll of work injuries, illnesses and deaths gets constantly neglected, but Valerio Mastandrea wants to spread awareness on this phenomenon, also by dedicating the film “To Those Who Remain.” The director, thus underlines that the victims of these fatalities are not just the deceased, but also the people who have to survive the permanent separation with their beloved.
Mastandrea conveys his philosophical inquiry through an unusual style that seems to invoke the Theatre of Absurd, through situations that break down communication, to convey what happens when human existence has no meaning or purpose. However he also includes some comic relief, with the voice of innocence, i.e. the blunt conversations the children have in preparation of the funeral. Thence, the unconventional Ride delves into existentialism, with an unprecedented form of storytelling, as Valerio Mastandrea disassembles the rhetorics of grief.