Nostalgia is based on a 2016 novel by Ermanno Rea, brought to the screen by the distinguished and prolific Italian auteur Mario Martone, who was born in Naples in 1959 and has since directed more than 30 films. Now a Rome resident, he was during the 1990s associated with the new wave of Neapolitan cinema alongside Toni Servillo and Paolo Sorrentino, the respective star and director of The Great Beauty.
Nostalgia tells the story of a businessman (an excellent Pierfrancesco Favino) now resident in Cairo, who returns after 40 years to his hometown Naples to visit his ageing mother. The memories of his past stirred up are depicted in flashbacks made explicit by the use of silent Super 8 photography, in the classic 4:3 aspect ratio; the format associated with Martone’s own adolescence in the 1970s.
Martone explains that “the story is also a trip through time, so the choice of Super 8 is very close to me”; and that “in Naples, everything changes, and nothing changes.” A deeply personal paean to his home city, Martone has said that he practically shot the last scene of the film with his eyes closed, its effect on him was so great.
“Gruffly lyrical urban portrait … a siren song to the past that confronts us with a violent, unromantic present” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Tremendously shot, and terrifically acted by Favino. It challenges the idea of ‘nostalgia’ as broadcast in the title” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian