La SapienzaDirector: Eugène Green
France, Italy | French, Italian
Subtitles: Arabic and English
“Science without conscience destroys the soul,' reads the Rabelais quote that opens this introspective new film from American-born, France-based iconoclast Eugène Green about an alienated architect’s search for rebirth, light and wisdom amidst the Baroque beauty of Rome.
Seemingly alienated in his ivory tower from both society and his own wife, the architect Alexandre (Fabrizio Rongione, a Dardenne brothers regular) heads to Switzerland and then Rome to seek inspiration from the work of his idol, the Roman Baroque visionary Francesco Borromini. A different inspiration—or exasperation—comes from a surprise travelling companion, the young, hopeful Goffredo, himself an inspiring architect, who sees the world not in black and white or shades of gray, but in terms of space and light.
Meanwhile, Alexandre’s wife Aliénor begins a friendship with Lavinia, Goffredo’s ill sister. Perhaps surprisingly for a film of ideas, thoughtfulness and architecture, La Sapienza is one of the warmest, most human works of the year, constantly filled with wonder and awe as its camera pans across Roman Baroque interiors of circles and light, and its script explores the mysteries of emotional connection. “One must always be moved by passion,' notes a character, “otherwise one is no longer alive.'