Opening in New York this Friday and in Los Angeles on March 22nd, Reality is acclaimed writer-director Matteo Garrone’s follow-up to his award-winning crime drama Gomorrah. In this darkly comic fairy tale where magical realism meets neo-realism, Garrone honors Italy’s cinematic past while focusing on the highly contemporary subject of reality television and today’s fascination with instant celebrity. He introduces an indelible cinematic everyman, Luciano (Aniello Arena), whose unforgettable journey from small-town fishmonger to big-city superstar becomes a universal fable about dreaming big that is at once delightful, delirious and deceptive.
In an exclusive interview, Garrone talked to me about the true story that inspired his fascinating character study, how he navigated the subtle line between reality and fantasy, why he cast a former Mafia hitman in the main role, the similarities he sees between Arena and Robert De Niro, how the death of D.P. Marco Onorato left a deep personal and professional void in his life, his collaboration with composer Alexandre Desplat, and what the film’s unusual ending shares in common with Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America. He also revealed how writer René Girard and filmmakers Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica and Pietro Germi influenced his work and why he thinks Quentin Tarantino should add Germi to the group of cult mavericks he’s rediscovered.