Nanni Moretti is a prolific actor, writer, director, and producer who has been putting out regular work for the best part of his fifty years in the business. For the first time in his illustrious career, he is adapting someone else’s story for the big screen. His latest piece Three Floors is based upon the best-selling novel Three Stories by Eshkol Nevo, relocated from its Tel Aviv base in the original material to Rome for its cinema adaptation.
Telling a triptych of traumatic tales within a modern apartment block, we see Monica (Alba Rohrwacher) struggle with motherhood, Dora (Margherita Buy) and Vittorio (Nanni Moretti) deal with the aftermath of their son’s destructive actions, and Lucio (Riccardo Scamarcio) go to great lengths to get to the bottom of a deeply morbid mystery.
With an intriguing premise, Moretti establishes the sombre tone for his narrative, introducing the handful of faces along with their worries and woes. As the plots develop and intertwine, we see two five-year time jumps that carry the stories forward that in turn shape the lives and personalities of the residents. However, because the pivotal moments occur in the first of three acts, the rest of the film wallows in the less impactful melodrama of the fallout. The increasingly questionable morals of the well-to-do characters feels mismatched with the authentic social-realism style, and Piersanti’s classical score can only swell so much in an attempt to keep their suffering interesting.
In amongst the merciless melancholy, a couple of strong performances provide some enjoyable respite; Denise Tantucci is a breath of fresh air as Charlotte, whose naïve yet quietly manipulative actions bring more trouble to Lucio’s door, who is played with great conviction by Riccardo Scamarcio. Disappointingly flat but certainly not without its merits, Nanni Moretti’s Three Floors is a mixed bag of misery-porn.