The fantastic three

REVIEW FILM IN COMPETITION +13 – THE FANTASTIC THREE

The story of a trio of special friends lives on in the competing film The Fantastic Three for the Generator +13 section.

The first film in competing at the Giffoni Film Festival 2023 for the Generator +13 section is the feature film THE FANTASTIC THREE directed by French director Michael Dichter. A César Award nominee for the short film Pollux, this is the filmmaker’s first time directing a film. The wish to show the viewer an unprecedented version of the France that everyone knows, was fulfilled with the realisation of this project. The story of the three boys, set in the suburbs, is told through eyes that have stopped dreaming and are forced to come to terms with harsh reality. The feeling of being abandoned to their fate, of not sensing important changes for their future, are dealt with less harshly, thanks to the kid’s young age.

The director has taken to the big screen, a story unearthed from the memory drawer of his teenage years, when he too was a boy and was surrounded by friends, who were to all intents and purposes his second family. Like the film’s main character, Michael Dichter, too, experienced first-hand the pain of waiting for his father to return.

What he had not anticipated, however, was the release from prison of his brother Sebastien, whose return home marked the beginning of a nightmare. It becomes almost an oxymoron, the concept of hope developed by the director and staged by Max’s character. Even though hope has never been part of his daily life, in his heart he never ceases to hope to go back to living with all the members of his family, in a peacefully and without dramatic consequences.

The debate with the jurors of Generator +13, was rich in ideas and comprised of questions that allowed director Michael Dichter, lead actor Diego Murgia and the film’s producer, to reveal some trivia that was useful for an even deeper understanding of the film. What struck the jurors present in the Sala Truffaut was Tom’s character, one of the Fantastic Three, because of the way in which he went through a downward evolution in the story. From a character who used to shine in his own light, towards the end of the film he is the one who not only loses his initial sparkle but also experiences the greatest drama of all.

To the question: what was the most beautiful and the most difficult scene to shoot? The director answered that the final one, – the one in which Tom holds the gun during the party – was the most difficult to shoot. The guys were tired by then, as they had been shooting at all hours of the day and night for a whole month. It is no coincidence that the final scene was shot at two o’clock in the morning, in a very complex emotional state for the young actors, exhausted by the accumulated fatigue. This allowed the director to take a step back, stopping directing them and leaving them free to express themselves as they saw fit.

What emerged from the director’s and actor’s words was how much friendship – a pivotal element in the film’s story – was present on and off the set. As director Dichter stated: ‘the most beautiful scene was the final one because of the moment of unity shared by all the characters, so much so that I no longer directed them, they were helping each other, and the group of friends was present and not just staged. The guys had never met before and got to know each other during filming.”

When asked about the building of Max’s character, the director admitted that he included something of himself, something of the dark side we all have and also something of the person we would like to be in this world.

One element that really caught the kids’ attention was the relationship between Max and his older brother Sebastien. When love is not enough to save a person from his own dark side, what can one do? The answer given by the director lies at the heart of the story: ‘I think in the film, Max’s character eventually understands that if you find true love you can be saved. The problem is that he believed that true love was his brother’s, but in reality, it was his friends’.” In conclusion, again in relation to the contrasting relationship between the two brothers, actor Diego Murgia emphasised an aspect that proves that age is just a number: “Max is very mature despite being young and that’s why you can appreciate the differences between bad and good actions. Max had to learn on his own to do things. He is an adult in a boy’s body while his older brother is a boy in an adult’s body. There is a large part of myself in the character and in certain moments I remembered things I experienced that helped me to portray the character in the best possible way.”

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