This is a delightful documentary from Gianfranco Rosi. Purely observational with no soundtrack except the “natural” sounds you hear from the subjects and surroundings you are whisked from one scene to the next and sometimes back again with no connection apparent. Except the one connection is that all of the people you meet live and work around the Sacro GRA massive ring road that runs around Rome.
This is an interesting study of all forms of humanity. We meet a man who is an expert on palm trees and listens to the weevils that may or may not have moved in, table dancers getting ready for their evening shift in the kitchen of the tiny roadside bar where they work, the eel man and his philosophies, a variety of prostitutes, even a miracle.
Rosi uses panning shots to put people and events in the context of the road, always the road with its cars whizzing by. The ring and circle theme is repeated throughout; people walking in circles, the camera turning in a circle, eels in a bucket, you start seeing circles everywhere.
There are moments of high emotion and mundanity mixed with bizarre images and characters. The ambulance man who we visit often is the most poignant, we see him saving lives, joking with patients and then tenderly looking after his elderly mother.
This film somehow captures the whole of life and death by just focusing on the microcosm of this ring road. It’s a philosophical piece which will give you little moments of joy.
Sacro GRA is being released by Soda Pictures in the UK, hitting cinemas on 7 November and then DVD on 10 November.