Three Floors

One building in Rome, 3 apartments, 3 families each with their own stories. Yet their stories are about to collide, quite literally in the beginning, and then figuratively though no less forcefully after that.

The entitled son of two upright judges swerves the car he’s driving drunkenly in order to avoid hitting his pregnant neighbour Monica (Alba Rohrwacher), who is in labour and taken to the street to flag down her own cab since her husband is routinely away from home. Instead he hits and kills another pedestrian before ploughing into one of the units. Owner Lucio (Riccardo Scamarcio) is relieved to find his family unharmed but he and his wife jump into action to help, leaving their young daughter under the care of their elderly neighbour. Sometime during that hectic night, the elderly neighbour and the little girl go missing, and Lucio can’t help but imagine the very worst, the neighbour morphing in his head from doting grandfatherly type to pervert in the bush. And that’s just how the movie starts. Their entangled narratives keep on chugging along, unfurling in surprising ways.

Director Nanni Moretti excels at shady morals and knotted ethics. Each character has been implicated in a sort of test, an exchange that pushes over some blurry line that pushes them to live at the extremes of human experience. Three Floors doesn’t necessarily judge the character as play witness to their hypocrisy as they attempt to tread through very murky waters. Yet for each act of reckless irresponsibility, we also see compassion and generosity, or at least the possibility for it.

There’s a common vein that runs through these stories, uniting them by more than just geography. Unfortunately I found the film to be too uneven to be enjoyable. For every juicy bite of steak, there’s a whole lot of boiled potato and flavorless frozen peas that must be swallowed as part of the package. And it’s not just the tedious valleys that are objectionable, it’s the absence of a single character to root for. To err is human, but these folks are a little too human, if you catch my drift, and I’m a little too less than divine to forgive. Three Floors was an official selection of TIFF 2021 but it was one of the more forgettable films in its lineup.

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