Sunday, November 18, 2018

EUFF 18' Film Review - Titanium White

Titanium White is a paint colour closely associated forgery. Those involved in the criminal act on occasion use the paint to build the palate of a painting but it was not invented at the time when several masters toiled thus becoming a clue open for detection when a "lost" painting suddenly surfaces to go up for auction. Given these facts its fitting that Piotr Smigasiewicz has chosen the paint colour for the title of his first feature film. Dominik (Daniel Olbrychski) is a PhD Art student from Poland. His subject/obsession are the works of painter Michelangelo Caravaggio. He keeps the local archivist up into the wee hours of the morning as he studies his subject. Dominik finds support from his eccentric German professor (Torsten Voges) sent to Porto Ercole in Tuscany all expenses paid to study the last works of the 17th Century painter. Once there, things begin to unravel almost at once. Leaving the student a mix of frustrated, in danger, exhilarated and confused.

Dominik teams up with Father Paolo (Luca Calvani) soon after his arrival. Paolo has taken over services at the church from Father Tornatore who was a great admirer of Caravaggio. So much so that there is evidence of his work in the church.  There are also two Irishmen in town asking questions about the painter looking to go into the crypt in the church basement but Paolo new to the role does not have the keys. That night a Caravaggio piece is stolen from the church leading the police in direction of the newcomer to town as a person of interest.

Director Smigasiewicz comes from the world of documentary film having spent considerable time in Northern Ireland and Ireland. He developed a keen interest in the Ulster conflict focusing on Polish people moving into the Protestant areas.  The director puts the focus of the production more on the main character rather than the paintings. The Art department led by Marek Warszewski deserves special mention for their work in preparing the Caravaggio paintings used in the film. Cinematographer Arkadiusz Toniak helps to set the tone with his use of light and shadows in indoor settings especially choosing how the light will fall on the Caravaggio paintings.

Titanium White is a film that delves into the world of Art History, appreciation and forgery. The seaside town of Porto Ercole is the perfect setting to tell the tale of the work of an Italian Master who may have some lost works suddenly uncovered. The narrative is however somewhat uneven with the author of the conspiracy not thoroughly fleshed out. The result is the main character being lead unwittingly by an unseen hand that does not deliver a payoff in the end.

** 1/2 Out of 4.

Titanium White | Piotr Smigasiewicz | Poland | 2017

Tags: Art History, Michelangelo Caravaggio, 17th Century Master, PhD Student, Tuscany, Italy, Grant, Priest, Fiat 500.

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