The merciless Sicilian sun sets from above. At the top of the hill by the road, Oskar is looking for suitable scrap metal. Later, the growing Italian and his dad, who is both domineering and disrespectful, take him to a scrap dealer, where a few euros await. It’s possible he won’t be doing anything else for years to come. But you can tell he has other ideas. If only he knew how to get out of this miserable and trapped life!
A few miles away, Stanley is mopping the church floor. Long before the first believers sat in the pews. The Nigerian man crossed the sea as a refugee. At least he got a temporary residence permit. But here, somewhere in the barren and economically declining heart of Sicily, many of the hopes that led him to escape failed. The youth is one of the “invisibles” who are exploited as cheap labor. His greatest wish: just run away from here!
Look for new perspectives
Stanley and Oscar are kind of in the same boat. The documentary “Il mio corpo” depicts two people looking for a new perspective. And also under their identity in an environment that does not promise much of a future. Director Michele Pennetta, who hails from northern Italy, also wanted to show the hidden sides of Sicily.
He did the same in the previous two films. One of them – “Pescatori di corpi” – described the daily life of a crew of illegal fishermen and a refugee living in an abandoned boat. Penneto’s Sicily has nothing to do with the wishes of tourists. But it is with great longing to leave the largest island of the Mediterranean.
When the camera captures the everyday life of the two characters, the first thing that catches your eye is the difference. Oscar and Stanley seem to have little in common. Oskar lives in disadvantaged circumstances, but is a few rungs above the African refugees in the hierarchy of the precariat. “If you don’t do your job right, I’ll get a black man,” jokes the father.
However, as the film progresses, some parallels emerge. The more a documentary narrative brings lifeworlds closer together, the clearer it is that the desire for self-determination also finds a place in this world of collective impasse and can reveal unimaginable power.
You are not heroes
Enchanted waiting until Stanley and Oscar finally meet. What does one have to say to the other? Will they recognize each other as social outcasts? Or maybe there are only oddities among them?
The film offers some depressing scenes from the daily life of dependents in Sicily. Many are so haunted that it is hard to believe that it is all real. Time and again, people’s hopes, desires and activities to make ends meet come into focus. In this way, Pennetta avoids appearing to them as victims of circumstances.
But they also have little in common with heroes. Maybe Oscar dreams of being him, riding his bike through a wasteland that could be the setting for a future dystopia or even an old-school western.
Overall, the landscape plays a central role in the film, which the distributor wants to see as a “declaration of love” for Sicily – a complicated love it must be. Especially in those interminable moments where Oskar bounces off endless bumpy roads in the van, the toss-up and human nature of this particularly downtrodden, crisis-ridden part of Italy becomes apparent.
The changing impressions of harsh beauty enhance the allegorical effect of two characters who are at completely different points in a society marked by migration and stagnation. And yet they share much more than they realize. The path to this knowledge for the audience is twisted. It is worth looking for more than just an aesthetic sense.
Information: Il mio corpo (Switzerland/Italy 2020), film by Michele Pennetta, 80 min., original subtitles.
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