News from the Locarno Festival

The Sorrows of Young Philip

The Sorrows of Young Philip



Right away we can clear the field of ambivalence. Listen Up Philip is one of those films that is either welcomed or rejected. Alex Ross Perry is too talented to go for half measures: he does not make films to satisfy the sluggish Saturday-afternoon audiences. His characters are difficult, as full of problems as the world they inhabit; at the same time, beyond their idiosyncrasies, they reveal a touching fragility.

The latest and also the most utterly obsessive is Philip Lewis Friedman, a writer able to create a personal crisis just as his second novel is about to be published – a novel that is sure to be a success. Luckily he has at his side a guardian angel able to give him a shake and put him back on track when necessary. Thanks to her, he finds companionship and refuge with his idol Ike Zimmerman, champion of an irreverent irony towards everything and everyone.

Reducing the film’s drama to an outline is not, however, a satisfactory operation. For Alex Ross Perry, the plane of actions and – most of all – of interrelations between the individuals is always filtered by a voice which, as in the best literature, relativizes the telling of things, interpreting, distorting or leading elsewhere.

To balance this excess of verbalization (a flow of thoughts more than pure words) is a constantly moving camera, which, close up to the characters, captures their ripples. The work of Sean Price Williams, who has said he was inspired by Carlo Di Palma’s work on Husbands and Wives, caresses the emotions of the protagonists, who appear in a state of grace. Though Jason Schwartzman stands out in a role very different from his usual line, Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce give some of their best performances. The former is sweet and enlightened, the latter so cynical as to be irresistible.


Alex Ross Perry
Success and betrayal and like how in New York City sometimes the people you think are your friends turn out to be your enemies but then it turns out that the real enemy is you yourself. Seasons change and you don’t but maybe that’s okay because eventually it’s just bleak, dark, winter.

Carlo Chatrian
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