Sandro Chessa, Stefano Ceccon
Paolo, 19, is a guy with Down syndrome, which tries to have a ‘normal’ life. He works in a school canteen where he makes jokes with his co-workers, and twice per week he goes early in the morning with his scooter to buy with his own money the fish for him and his family. Anyway sometimes he also acts like a child: we see him play with a dog, bursting soap bubbles, getting angry when his father forbids him for using the inflatable slides reserved to kids. The way he talks and how he understands concepts like money and time show us his mild cognitive impairment.
Instead in the sport activities he’s sometimes better than ‘normal’ people. He’s a decent skier, and during his snow holidays he teaches his mother how to ski, and she eventually falls, laughing whit his son, at that moment ‘more normal’ than her. He also competes with some guys on the slopes.
The mother, Veronica, 45, is an architect who used to work as an interior designer but quitted to take care of Paolo. She doesn’t regret her choice, and now she works as location manager, especially for weddings. She’s a sunny person, who has accept his son’s disability, and now she can deal with it, often with irony.
Unfortunately it’s not the same for her husband, Lorenzo, 50, an engineer who closed his studio to work in a company, so to be able to help his wife with Paolo. He’s not grumpy: he’s suffering. He’s not sure how to handle his relationship with Paolo. During the snow holidays we see him spying on a man with Down syndrome, not for voyeurism but just because he cannot imagine his son’s life in the future. He will even slap Paolo, not for educational purpose but because he’s just too worried about him, almost with complacency.
While Paolo exercises in a gym to improve his posture, he meets Armando, 55, a tough and lonely box trainer, whose young son, a very good amateur boxer, died in a car accident short before with the mother. Paolo and Armando like each other at first glance and the guy starts to train at the fitboxe class, enjoying it very much. Little by little the guy ask Armando to train with amateurs boxers, becoming friend with them. Paolo is treated like the other guys, even because he doesn’t have a significance lack of strength or speed, and we even see Armando shout at him during the training. Paolo eventually, although the initial opposition of his father, will make his debut as amateur boxer.
The film is inspired to a true story of an amateur MMA fighter with Down syndrome who as of January 2018 has a record of three matches with two wins and one defeat. The irony will be the leitmotiv: there’s no mercy for Paolo. He’s not a mournful person to comprehend. He’s not waiting for an aide laying in a suffering state. Paolo will be described as a brave guy. But of course he won’t seem a tough man. There’s no doubt: the face (and the whole body) of Paolo recalls at once what was before called a ‘mongoloid’; but all his redemption efforts (the fatigue, the sweat, the apnea, the fists on the face) will try to nullify the small chin, the flat nasal bridge, the single crease of the palm, the protruding and relatively large tongue. If slanted eyes means Down syndrome, box means redemption.