A portrait that leaves us perplexed, slightly worried and with unresolved questions. “Var-hami” has to do with “true”: what is true, if not what you want to believe in? This is the question which starts the film, working on the border: the boundary between true and false. The subject, ambiguous, in constant balance between lies and truth, appearance and substance, he is hardly in focus: it is taken up through reflections and images that change its nature, between the walls of its anonymous living room. “To denature” is the artistic process that his father, addressing it to his paintings, passes on to his son Davide, hypnotist mentalist, who turns it into a show. The shots investigate, once again, an arduously graspable character.
Commentary by Dario Agazzi: The irony is subtle, barely mentioned, in the interaction between director and character. The camera eye is constantly looking for something.
The mentalist relates to the society and is nourished by it, therefore the portrait extends to society, bringing out the background figures from the main figure, object of the “documentary” analysis. The camera eye moves on subjects that are part of a desperately melancholy reality, 2000s crisis’ faces (total: even metaphysical), of a weak and faded northern Italy. (…)
Graduated in accountancy, the protagonist knows how to balance the accounts of the “work” of a mentalist from a remunerative point of view, plastered in a mask of smiling pleasure that leads him to think of circuses. The mentalist really looks like the mask of himself, and the exercise of acting, aimed at building his character, led him to be a cast. Oneself’s cast. A 32-year-old man never seems to speak, but a circus puppet moved by invisible threads. “Smile,” says Deus ex machina: and the Mentalist smiles. “Be pleasing”, and he is pleasing. In all this, the feeling established by the Mentalist with society seems to be the last possible thread of human contact where human contacts do not remain – really – any more. The feeling of the smiling puppet that speaks to other puppets, regaining that power over the society as an infant (according to him: but what is reality and what fiction in these words?) he had, at the time of nursery school, marginalized and excluded. (…) In his big wool sweater he laughs, in fact he is mute, and it is a faint burst of truth (the cheek, the laugh, the sweater …) in this sock-like humanity fiction with the arm inside: a sockpuppet life. Cinema, therefore, perhaps in the purest sense of the term: because if cinema is fiction, this cinema that scours a reality, wanting to give us the biographical documentary of an illusionist, ends up asking us to question deceit and deceive us on the question: it is true or false?

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