MODALITÀ AEREO (Airplane Mode, 2019), is a wonderful Italian romp of a film. It’s a dramatic comedy directed by Fausto Brizzi and produced by Luca Barbareschi. It stars Raolo Ruffini (Diego), Caterina Guzzanti (Maria), Violante Placido (Linda), Lillo Petrolo (Ivano), Dino Abbrescia (Sabino), and Veronica Logan as herself. The title of the film references the setting on a smartphone for use onboard an aircraft in which the device cannot receive or transmit wireless signals to prevent it from interfering with the aircraft’s communication systems. The film is subtitled in English.
It’s a story about Diego, a narcissistic egotistical prick, who gets his comeuppance when he forgets his phone in the men’s VIP washroom after verbally abusing two airport cleaners and getting them fired. His smartphone is loaded with his personal information, contacts and credit information. Rather than turning the phone over to ‘Lost and Found’, they use the information on Diego’s smartphone to teach the prick a lesson while enjoying themselves at his expense. When Diego lands in Australia, he finds his reputation has been destroyed and he is left to deal with the repercussions from Ivano and Sabino’s actions. The film poses a number of intriguing questions. Can he survive the ordeal and redeem himself?
Airplane mode follows a linear narrative. Brizzi juxtaposes the narrative of Diego’s time on the plane and his hysterical antics with the havoc Ivano and Sabino inflict on Diego’s life and the fun they have at his expense. Brizzi juxtaposes the simmering tensions and hostilities amongst the characters to create dramatic tension that moves the narrative of the film, and then, flips the victim narrative on its head. Upon his return to Rome, Diego discovers who his real enemies are, and together with Ivano and Sabino and Linda’s help, he embarks on a journey to regain control of his business.
Brizzi weaves together many visual elements to create a funny film that mocks the negatives of social media and technology. There are many funny scenes in the film which are a delight and are cleverly done and will leave you laughing at Diego’s expense, along with Ivano and Sabino, and at cross-cultural communication and stereotypes. The scene with Mr. Wang and his entourage and Ivano and Sabino in the Cardini conference room is my absolutely favorite and is priceless. I also loved watching Ivano sing one of Little Tony’s pop song hits to his wife Maria to win back her affectations. There is so much to recommend the film especially the comedy in the film which is well executed.
The film which is superbly acted, well-written and nicely shot, appealed to me on many levels and is a cautionary tale too. Our reliance on social media and technology such as smartphones leaves us vulnerable to hackers who can hijack our information and use it for nefarious purposes and leave us holding the bag. On another level, the film raises the concept of karma and its law and how they can come into play for one’s misdemeanors and bite you in the ass when you least expect it. If you are a fan of comedy dramas, you’ll love this film for its slapstick humor and comedic scenes. If you are a fan of Italian films, like me, you’ll love it for its style of cinematic filmmaking and storytelling. It’s a wonderful feel-good movie suitable for all ages. Do see it for you won’t be disappointed!
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