The Space Between

THE SPACE BETWEEN,   Australia/Italy, 2016.  Starring Flavio Parenti, Maeve Dermody. Directed by Ruth Borgobello. 100 minutes.  Rated M (coarse language and brief sex scene).

This is a film for middle-aged audiences and older who enjoy something of a light and unusual romance film.

The film is an Australian-Italian production, with Australian finance and production support and an Australian star, Maeve Dermody. However, it also has a great deal of Italian finance, an Italian cast led by Flavio Parenti and Italian settings which are very attractive – and could entice audiences to visit north-eastern Italy, and the city of Udine and its surroundings.

The film opens with a quotation from the poet Rilke – suggestions of deeper meanings of love and relationships, and people’s place in the universe. The Rilke theme continues with one of the central characters carrying around the poems that Rilke wrote and the screenplay taking the central characters and the audience to a coastal and cliff walk, the locations where he conceived the poems.

This is the story of Marco, Flavio Parenti, who grew up in Udine, training to be a chef, moving to New York City where he had jobs which he liked but, his mother had some strokes and he returned home and has stayed in the town to care for his father. His father is laconic, as his son says, preferring watching television rather than have conversation. He also now has a dreary job at the same factory where his father worked, being retrenched and then re-hired. He has a close friend, Claudio, who runs a bookshop and does some catering which Marco enjoys helping with.

Then tragedy strikes and there is a space between ordinary life and resuming life, living through grief which affects Marco deeply.

He encounters Olivia, Maeve Dermody, who lives in Melbourne but has come back to the home of her ancestors to sort out property matters and visit cousins. In many ways it is a chance encounter but each is attracted to the other, Marco helping Olivia, going on outings, including the Rilke walk, with her.

And here a complication arises which leads to the possibilities of a different kind of space between…

Marco, while concerned about his father, is being headhunted to work in restaurants in Melbourne. He is at first reluctant but agrees to sign a contract and go to Australia.

And, while his falling in love with Olivia, he persuade her to pursue her desires to be a furniture designer rather than the quite successful banker she gives. She wins an internship which would require her to stay in Italy.

This is one of those films where we can’t even say spoiler alert – the ending is left for the characters to make decisions, for the audience to observe them, have an emotional response to what they want to do and leaving the cinema trying to predict what might happen.

Palace Films                                   Release July 26th

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.