Toronto Film Festival–Practically a one-man show, Manila Paloma Blanca is the kind of theatrical film that is very seldom made these days. A chronicle of the life of a homeless, mentally ill actor, this depressing film has no commercial prospects in the U.S. or elsewhere, and it's not a festival entry either. The only way to exhibit curio item is in a retrospective of the new Italian cinema, as was done at the Toronto Festival.
Carlo Colnaghi, a severely looking performer, plays Carlo, a middle-aged, out-of work actor, in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Living on welfare, but still dreaming of better life and career, Carlo plans a grand comeback with a new, highly personal monologue. Carlo's frustrations as an actor who has not performed for a decade and horrible living conditions manifest themselves in bouts of anger, hostility, and self-inflicting suffering.
Monotonous monodrama is somehow enlivened by a strange relationship that Carlo develops with Sara (Alessandra Comerio), a wealthy Jewish curator who works in a museum. Indeed, Sara's friends can't understand what she is doing with the eccentric, disturbingly volatile Carlo.
Ultimately, the film's philosophical ambitions to provide insights about the human condition, aging and loneliness remain unfulfilled, because the observations are not sufficiently illuminating or original. The only redeeming quality of Manila Paloma Blanca, a film that doesn't representative the new and more exciting Italian cinema, is Carlo Colnaghi's grand performance, which dominates the somberly dreary tale in its tragic lyricism and pathos.
I Cammelli film production. Produced by Enrico Verra. Directed by Daniele Segre. Screenplay, Davide Ferrario, Segre. Camera (color), Luca Bigazzi; editor, Claudio Cormio. Reviewed at the Toronto Festival of Festivals, Sept. 17, 1993. Running time: 88 min.