Rotterdam 2024 Review: ROME: TALES FROM THE BLOCK, A Slight Alien Invasion Satire

Luna Gualano's science fiction comedy thriller is well-made but could have used some more depth.

Contributing Writer; The Netherlands
Rotterdam 2024 Review: ROME: TALES FROM THE BLOCK, A Slight Alien Invasion Satire

La Guerra Del Tiburtino III has as its international title Rome: Tales From the Block, which shows you how much this film wears its influences on its sleeve. From the opening segment, in which an alien creature leaves a meteor and takes over the brain of a middle aged schlub, it is clear that this film operates in a similar vein to Joe Cornish' Attack The Block, setting an alien invasion in the outskirts of a city, where the people who live there consider themselves the have-nots.

Outside of dealing with financial struggles, petty crime, poor neighborhood cleaning and such, they now also have to deal with an invasion of bodysnatchers. Invasion of the Body Snatchers itself is also a clear reference point, as are more comedic fare by the likes of Jared Hess (the opening credits pay homage to Napoleon Dynamite) and the women-centric movies of Pedro Almodovar. This at times scans as Women On The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown (Due To The Infestation of Alien Brain Bugs Trying To Mind Control You).

The director of the film, Luna Gualano, was also a protége of the Manetti Brothers, the Italian duo who are renowned for their pop-culture mash-ups. They produced the film, and some of their glossy, genre-mixing pop-art style is very present in the end result. But Luna Gualano brings a more feminist approach to her movie than the Manetti Brothers ever did in the past.

In the opening credits the names of the cast and crew are written on objects like in Napoleon Dynamite, but in this case it is on the nail polish bottles, acrylic nails and other pedicure equipment from one of the main protagonists. It brings a female-focused bent to the film. Outside of the main duo, a male petty drug dealer and his best friend, who is a quintessential himbo, most of the central characters are women. You have the mother of the drug dealer, whose business as a pedicurist is on the verge of collapsing due to a concurrent hitting it big. You also have the local barista, who knows everyone in the neighborhood and whose street savvy skills come in handy. And finally an interloper, an instagram-famous fashion blogger who decides to visit the outskirts of Rome for the very first time, as she feels like blogging about the alien invasion might help survive her dwindling brand.

Those women, and their many friends, are all dealing with the men in their life being taken over by brain bugs. Lest you think that the film might have something to say about gender politics, outside of a refreshingly blunt outcome for one of the main storylines, La Guerra Del Tiburtino III really has not a lot to say about any politics at all. It pays lipservice to political satire in the first leg of the movie, where the father of the main protagonist becomes a political figurehead after being taken over by a brain bug. He starts spouting right wing rhetoric about the troubles of the neighborhood having to do with 'rampant immigration' and political corruptness. But the film doesn't have a hard hitting message about how people in these kinds of environments are pitted against each other by people who have to gain power from infighting... Not really.

The main goal of the film seems to entertain, leaving the potential of its setting unexplored, as is the case for the gender and racial dynamics within the group. This leaves La Guerra Del Tiburtino III feeling slight. It is a film that pulls its punches. It's a nice piece of cinematic confectionery, but for a film with "guerra" ('war' or 'conflict') in its title, the stakes seem very low. La Guerra del Tiburtino III is a fun movie, regardless, one that will please fans of horror comedy. It is well made. You just wish it had something more on the brain than just the bugs.

La guerra del Tiburtino III

  • Luna Gualano
  • Luna Gualano
  • Emiliano Rubbi
  • Antonio Bannò
  • Sveva Mariani
  • Paolo Calabresi
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Luna GualanoEmiliano RubbiAntonio BannòSveva MarianiPaolo CalabresiFantasy

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