ITALY IN A DAY Doc­u­men­tary, not rated, 75 min­utes, in Ital­ian with sub­ti­tles, 3 p.m. Thurs­day, June 2, Vi­o­let Crown,

Pasatiempo - - CREATION STORIES - Italy in a Day, (Mediter­ra­neo)

No mat­ter what coun­try you live in, early each morn­ing, loaves of bread get baked and news­pa­pers are printed. These are some of the be­gin­ning images in a doc­u­men­tary made from videos recorded by or­di­nary Ital­ians about their lives on Oct. 26, 2013. Os­car-win­ning di­rec­tor Gabriele Sal­va­tores fuses these dis­parate clips into an evoca­tive film.

The film is struc­tured to give us an hour-by-hour ac­count of how or­di­nary (and ex­tra­or­di­nary) peo­ple live out their day: What mo­ments mat­ter to us, vex us, or make us laugh? A mother gives birth to a child, and the fa­ther is over­whelmed al­most to the point of tears; in the next clip, a man speaks with his aged mother, who no longer re­mem­bers the names of her four chil­dren or even the fact that they ex­ist. The videos are edited with a the­matic flow in mind, and mu­sic aids the tran­si­tions.

One mov­ing sec­tion tells the story of an Ital­ian doc­tor who pro­vides med­i­cal ser­vices in coun­tries in­clud­ing Iraq, where op­ti­mal fa­cil­i­ties do not ex­ist for sick chil­dren. The doc­tor tells us that af­ter a seem­ingly hope­less op­er­a­tion for a boy born with a heart con­di­tion, the doc­tor and his aide did not give up. They mas­saged the boy’s heart man­u­ally for four hours un­til it be­gan to beat on its own. Maybe it is such high-or­der hero­ics — or the every­day sto­icism of bak­ers who work in predawn hours for the rest of us — that in­spire one man, at the end of the film, to say that hu­man be­ings are in­cred­i­ble. It is nice to hear some­thing good about peo­ple for a change, in con­trast to what the daily news cy­cle gen­er­ally im­plies about them.

The only nar­ra­tive here is that a day be­gins and a day ends. We share this fas­ci­nat­ing time with more Ital­ians than we might oth­er­wise hope to know. When a film makes us think about life with a cap­i­tal L, it can slip into sen­ti­men­tal­ity, but this doc­u­men­tary keeps its feet squarely on the ground. The film­mak­ers know which daily rhythms and as­pi­ra­tions we all share in com­mon, and they play the right notes, and not too loudly. In other clips, a baby wakes up with a smile, and a cou­ple has a mock fight be­fore go­ing to bed. It may not seem like much, but the whole here is hap­pily greater than the sum of its parts. — Priyanka Ku­mar

Le Mer­av­iglie

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