I Am Self Sufficient / Io sono un autarchico (1976)

2.0 out of 5

Nanni Moretti’s first film is more technically crude than Kevin Smith’s Clerks, yet survives on its comedic performances and a bitter, insightful exploration of its characters’ failures as they “contest” or defy modern society.

No such thematic comparisons apply to Smith’s movie, outside of a shared low budget. His idea of lampooning lost 20-somethings rests mostly in celebrating their vulgarity and interest in icky sex while Morretti paints some of his 1970s pretentious artists and ne’er-do-wells as even worse than Smith’s: they are idealists.

The humor is found mostly in Moretti’s exposure of these men’s flaws. They are pampered, mopey, whiny, stupid, incompetent at most everything including creative work and fatherhood.

Everything is a pain in the ass. Sex, relationships, forget it. The thoughtless director of the movie’s play takes his cast on an absurd camping trip to get them in touch with nature and creating their characterizations, and it all ends in disaster. Yet the play itself, which opens in all its gut-wrenching glory, is the movie’s highlight.

An amusing movie that mocks the young artist and all his pathetically coveted nobility. Shot on Super 8 and blown up to 16 mm.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics