- Directed by Michelangelo Di Pierro -
“No Smoking” is a lighthearted story about the man changing life perspective due to a series of unexpected events.
Riccardo is a conservative middle-aged man holding a senior job at a company and living comfortably. A new law forbidding smoking turns his existence upside down. A heavy smoker, Riccardo has great difficulty in quitting and he gets fired from his job because of it. Further on, his girlfriend kicks him out of their apartment and all his friends turn their back on him. He ends up living on the couch of the secretary he was constantly scolding, who encourages him to take advantage of his freedom and follow his dreams.
The script has an intriguing premise and unfolds into a humorous plot. The character is caught in the absurdity of life. The cigarette ban is a fictional situation which manages to shine a light on the power of norms and the thin line between being considered normal and being rejected. Also, the film tackles the lack of purpose that comes with finding comfort in life. The protagonist believes people after 30 don’t have dreams, they just reap the benefits of their lifelong effort. His secretary, though holding a less important job, has a plan for herself and is emotionally stable, being able to offer support to someone in need. Going from successful to undesired, Riccardo learns from the woman how to stay true to himself. As a payback for the help, he sponsors his secretary’s dream of owning a bar and becomes her business partner. To complete the happy-ending, he gives up smoking, though the ban on cigarettes is canceled.
This feel-good movie keeps the viewer entertained with its tragicomic situations. The central character resembles the heroes of Nanni Moretti's films, sensitive and immature men on the verge of a middle-age breakdown, who meet life’s ups and downs with a sense of humor. However, the dialogues are over-explanatory and adding to that, a voice over introduces the new characters. Repetitive shots are overused and instead of amplifying a situation to ridicule it, they break the rhythm of the story, disconnecting the audience from the narrative.
The actors give a simple and natural performance, conquering the viewer’s heart. Nevertheless, the feminine character is not well-rounded, lacking a personal universe and having the unique purpose of backing up Riccardo. Often scriptwriters and directors forget to give a strong identity to secondary roles. Valeria doesn’t interact with any other personages and has no screen seconds for herself, she is always talking or accompanying the male lead.
The sound design also needs refining, sometimes lines echo or the sound noise is unevenly distributed, changing from one shot to another in the same location.
All things considered, “No Smoking” is deeply humanistic and engaging film, however, it misses attention to details and a consistent visual and narrative style.