Reality (2012 film)

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Reality (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatteo Garrone
Written byMaurizio Braucci
Ugo Chiti
Matteo Garrone
Massimo Gaudioso
Produced byDomenico Procacci
Matteo Garrone
StarringAniello Arena
Loredana Simioli
Claudia Gerini
CinematographyMarco Onorato
Edited byMarco Spoletini
Music byAlexandre Desplat
Distributed by01 Distribution
Release date
  • 18 May 2012 (2012-05-18) (Cannes)
Running time
115 minutes

Reality is a 2012 Italian drama film directed by Matteo Garrone and stars Aniello Arena, Loredana Simioli, and Claudia Gerini. The narrative is set in the world of reality television, and follows a Neapolitan fishmonger who participates in Grande Fratello, the Italian version of Big Brother.[1] The film won the Grand Prix award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.[2][3][4]


Grande Fratello (Big Brother) is a reality television program about boys who live in a fictional house with their day to day actions filmed and broadcast. Luciano, a young fishmonger married with children who lives in Naples, is attracted to this show that is famous in Italy. The program is superficial and silly but well-liked by the public, especially Luciano, the protagonist of the film. After a festive and vulgar marriage between relatives, Luciano returns to his poor life selling fish in the city. Luciano's friends, who are ignorant and dishonest, decide to persuade Luciano to audition for a part as one of the boys in Big Brother. Naively, Luciano is convinced and decides to go to Cinecittà in Rome to audition. At the audition the committee finds Luciano pleasant, though insignificant, and the assistant director dismisses him, saying he will be contacted if selected for the program. However, when Luciano returns to his neighborhood in Naples, he begins going crazy while waiting to hear from the assistant director. He believes he is being watched by hidden cameras from the television program he loves so much and is really happy about them. Luciano believes that appearing generous will win him the part on Big Brother, so he begins to give small gifts to the poor of the city, then spends large amounts of money giving away more expensive items, such as furniture, from his house. His wife and other relatives despair and believe that Luciano is out of his mind. His wife is especially worried and bursts into tears when she meets a friend of Luciano. She asks him why her husband has become so strange and, although he feels a deep sorrow for Luciano's tearful wife, he does not know how to answer. Luciano continues to get worse and is seen laughing for no reason. Finally, he makes a pilgrimage to Rome, and becomes obsessed with studying for his part in Big Brother, which is now his only reason for living.



After winning acclaim with his 2008 crime film Gomorrah, director Matteo Garrone wanted a key change for his next project, and decided to make a comedy. The screenplay for Reality is based on a true story. Garrone describes it as "a simple, working-class tale", not intended as a political treatise. However, it did develop into a darker film than originally planned, and Garrone has expressed doubt as to whether the finished version can be described as a comedy.[5]

The film was produced by Fandango and the director's company Archimede. It received co-production support from Rai Cinema and France's Le Pacte. It also received financial backing from Garance Capital.[1] The 11-week recording began on 5 May 2011. Filming took place in Naples and Rome.[6] The film had the production title Big House.[5]

Actor Aniello Arena, who plays the protagonist, is a convicted former member of the Camorra who was discovered by director Garrone at a theater play staged by the inmates of the Volterra prison. He has served life in prison for murder since 1991. Garrone sought special permission for him to appear in Gomorrah and was denied, but kept him in mind and insisted for this film.[7]


The film was selected for the main competition of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. It is Garrones' third time at Cannes; his 2002 film The Embalmer was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section, and Gomorrah played in competition in 2008 and won the Grand Prix.[1]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 79 reviews, with an average rating of 6.99/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Part dark satire, part compelling drama, Reality occasionally struggles to communicate its message, but it's never less than entertaining."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average of score of 76 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or and won the Grand Prix at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.


  1. ^ a b c De Marco, Camillo (20 April 2012). "Garrone bewitched by reality". Cineuropa. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  2. ^ "2012 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Cannes Film Festival 2012 line-up announced". timeout. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Awards 2012". Cannes. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  5. ^ a b ANSA (19 April 2012). "Garrone bids for more Cannes success". Life in Italy. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  6. ^ Scarpa, Vittoria (5 May 2011). "Garrone starts shooting Big House". Cineuropa. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  7. ^ Vulliamy, Ed (17 February 2013). "Aniello Arena: the Italian gangster who turned movie star". The Observer. London.
  8. ^ "Reality (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Reality reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 15 July 2019.

External links[edit]