festivals & awards:
While Laura confirms to Nicola that her life is now with another man, Damiana sends Mariano Bartolomeu to his house, a houseguest from Angola. The few days of hospitality become weeks, months. Nicola is upset by his dismal love affair, agitated by the imminent exam to be a university researcher, becomes neurotic due to the silent but relentless presence of the smiling Mariano, who seems the Jesuitical personification of African blackmail: poor, from a country at war, how can you kick him out?
On tiptoe, with criminal candor, the would-be director Bartolomeu takes over Nicola’s life. His clothes, his money, his house, his habits filmed as if through a magnifying lens on a small TV camera. Obviously it is Nicola’s. Like a vampire expanding retroactively when Mariano decides to re-edit and retell the old scenes of Laura shot by Nicola when he was in love.
Nicola seems to have freed himself, when he discovers he is in trouble. He discovers that the Angolan has hit and killed someone with his scooter. Now he is forced to look for him, turn him over to the police, watch him be arrested.
Mariano is upset about being in jail, Nicola is irritated by guilt feelings that prevent him from tackling the exam the way he should. He finally succeeds in having the precautionary detention turned into house arrest and Mariano returns to his place. This time it is 24 hours a day, required by law.
Exhausted, Nicola takes refuge at Giorgio’s, spending days in the entrance and becoming depressed, while Mariano, during the long wait for his trial, now runs the place. And he never loses his characteristic calm.
Nicola fails the exam, stuffs himself with anti-depressants, and Giorgio has trouble shaking him out of his catatonic depression. Meanwhile Mariano achieves success with his film, a bizarre mixture sadistically centered around Laura, titled: The Grand Nicola.