“Clannish” is one of the first words uttered by the protagonist of Enea [+], the second feature from director-screenwriter-actor Pietro Catellitto in competition at the 80th Venice Film Festival, to define the relationship imposing itself between his family and his close circle of friends. Clannish from clan, a word that ethno-anthropologists had borrowed from Gaelic. Defined by the director of the festival Alberto Barbera as “a kind of The Great Ugliness”, Enea arrives as the natural consequence of Catellitto’s surprising debut, The Predators [+], winner of Best Screenplay in the Orizzonti section in 2020 and of the Best Debut Director David di Donatello award. In The Predators, two irreconcilable family clans confronted each other, with a young, slightly crazy university assistant of philosophy in the middle. In the more ambitious (in terms of production level and artistically) and exuberant Enea, still set in the north of Rome, the restless scion of a good wealthy family – the father is a psychiatrist and the mother has a literary TV show – owns an elegant sushi restaurant almost out of boredom gets into a drug ring with his best friend Valentino (the singer-songwriter and rapper Giorgio Quarzo Guarascio). The director himself plays the protagonist who gives the film its title and in an appropriate analogy, directs his father Sergio and his younger brother Cesare in the roles of our hero’s father and younger brother.
The films alternates between the two parallel landscapes of the family environment and of the criminal adventure with many moments of directorial flair, also thanks to director of photography Radek Ladczuk and an excellent work on the sound design. Castellitto shows mastery in handling this material, observing the decadent bourgeois environment through the lens of disenchantment. The father gives out psychotropic drugs to his family, takes care of a very young patient and hides a “vice” that the spectator will discover near the end of the film. The mother (Chiara Noschese) is frustrated and aware of the uselessness of her own professional mission. Enea’s circle of friends, who meet up at the tennis club, doesn’t include any female presence, and when Enea conquers the beautiful Eva (Benedetta Porcaroli), the girl pretends not to notice her boyfriend’s poorly concealed amorality. The director tries to deconstruct the crime aspect in order not to fall in the trap of genre (in the director’s notes, he defines the film as “a gangster movie without the gangster part”) by showing us credible criminals and “decent” people flirting with them, as happens in real life, to explosive consequences that no one can contain. Castellitto enjoys also inserting into the story the character of the investigative journalist and writer Oreste Dicembre (Giorgio Montanini), ambiguous and opportunistic, who discovers the protagonist’s connection to criminality and could get Enea into trouble.
A decidedly antiphrastic name, that of the protagonist, given that Virgil’s mythological hero is the pius par excellence, the man who respects the divine will and the bonds that derive from it towards his homeland and family. This family “held together by remorse”, who doesn’t know how to bridge the gap between the post-war generation and the millennial children, how to fill the cultural and sentimental void, but who always gathers around the same lunch table on sundays, is the one that Joyce Carol Oates has described: the family linked to a tribal culture that prioritises group loyalty over moral behaviour. Enea suggests that remaining faithful to the family is more important than remaining faithful to the truth – the principle on which any kind of mafia is base.