The Solitude of Prime Numbers (2010)

It's been seven, maybe eight years since I first saw The Solitude of Prime Numbers. I hadn't read the novel at the time as I was not into reading, I was expecting a film about math, I was disappointed because it wasn't, and kind of hated the film. This year I finally read the book and, while it still has its flaws, I enjoyed it, so I decided to give the film another chance. Saverio Costanzo directed it after all, I loved his miniseries My Brilliant Friend, so how bad could this film be, right? Apparently a lot. 

The story follows Alice (Alba Rohrwacher) and Mattia (Luca Marinelli), two exceptional and yet inadequate people, rejected by their peers. Both traumatized as children (Martina Albano and Tommaso Neri), they meet while teenagers (Arianna Nastro and Vittorio Lomartire) and become friends, only to lose contact when Mattia accepts a three-year college scholarship in Germany. 

Unlike Paolo Giordano's novel, Costanzo's film proposes a non-linear narrative. While I usually love this storytelling approach as it demands you to pay attention and usually delivers great twists, its only purpose in here is to confuse the audience to the point that, if you haven't read the novel, you have no idea what is going on as the time jumps are too fast and sudden, flashbacks that don't always make sense and silences, filled in the book by the narrator's voice, that leaves you completely clueless of what is going on, or why a character is acting in a certain way. 

Which brings me to the characters, or the lack of them since most of the key characters from the novel are completely left out in Costanzo's adaptation —Alice's husband. As for the characters in the film, they aren't anything like they are in the book. Viola, the girl who used to bully Alice in high school, is nowhere as bitchy as she is in the novel —in the book, she is the mean girls' leader, whereas in the film she is just one of the mean girls following someone else's lead. Also, why is Viola all of a sudden into math and gives a speech about twin primes when it's actually Mattia that talks about them in the book as he is the math genius. Also, the relationship between Mattia and his mother have a pretty good relationship —while in the film, she wants Mattia to go to Germany for his career, in the book she wants him to leave because she can no longer stand living in the same house as him as she blames him for the disappearance and presumed death of his twin sister. Also, characters

The acting isn't much better. Not only the casting is wrong —Alba Rohrwacher looks absolutely nothing like the actress that plays her teen or kid version— but the performances leave quite some to be desired. Luca Marinelli isn't terrible as adult Mattia as he manages to convey the torment his character is enduring, but Rohrwacher is bland and kind of annoying. Isabella Rossellini, on the other hand, gives quite a mesmerizing performance as Mattia's mother.

As for Costanzo's decision to give a horror interpretation to the story, I have to say it's bold. Unfortunately, the horror approach doesn't really work here, the film falls flat and the horror-like score, which is quite beautiful, feels out of place and weird.

Paolo Giordano's novel may not be the most profound novel ever —to be honest, I'm surprised this book won awards— but Costanzo's film somehow manages to be even more shallow as it barely touches the main themes of the book —anorexia and self-arm— and fails to convey the unique bond between Alice and Mattia.

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