Monday, November 13, 2017

Easy, a film by Andrea Magnani

Easy is a hero’s journey tale. Main character Isidore, “Easy,” is a fat Italian schlub who at thirty still lives with his mother. His brother Nico, the favored son, arrives for his birthday and receives a gift of a knitted sweater vest emblazoned with a huge 1. Easy’s vest has an equally huge 2 on it. Ouch.

But Nico has a problem. He’s a construction contractor, and one of his crew died onsite in an accident. The man was from Ukraine, and his body needs to be delivered there. The casket is sealed, the hearse is acquired, and Easy, who before he became a pill-popping catatonic was a Go-Kart driving champion, is given the task of delivering it. He is so passive that Nico must yell at him to get going before he finally starts the engine and drives away.

The Hero’s Journey, an archetypal human story, finds an ordinary person, gives (in this case him) a task he is not equal to, and forces him to undertake it. In the course of his journey the task becomes more difficult, and the man loses every advantage and guide he started with. He must learn to rely on himself, and to accept the aid of those he encounters. The essential task does not change, but his means for accomplishing it are so different from when he began, that it is only his loyalty to its completion that sustains him. The man able to meet the challenge is thereby transformed into a Hero. But for every hero there are countless people who fail.

I won’t spoil the film by spilling details, except to say that the director woos us with Easy’s plight: he soon leaves precincts where Italian is spoken, and must struggle with poor English or nod helplessly as people address him in Slavic languages. And slowly, his face comes to life, that blank look replaced by gentle bafflement and determination.