Directed By: Matteo Garrone

Starring: Aniello Arena, Loredana Simioli, Claudia Gerini, Paola Minaccioni, Ciro Petrone, Nunzia Schiano, Nando Paone, Arturo Gambardella, and Angelica Borghese

I was never big on reality TV.  Sure, I watched the first few seasons of American Idol and the first season of Survivor back in the day.  After that brief foray into it, I went right on back to scripted programs.  That's what I knew and that's what I loved.  I've never watched any of the popular series of today like Dancing With the Washed Up Stars or Real Housewives of Wherever.  I just can't get into them.  Give me Game of Thrones or Mad Men any day of the week.  It's also probably why I can't empathize with potential Big Brother contestant Luciano in Matteo Garrone's Italian drama Reality.

Luciano (Aniello Arena) is the funny guy within his family.  Whether cross-dressing as celebrity Enzo's (Raffaele Ferrante) girlfriend or pretending to be some other outlandish character, he always puts on a show for them.  That's why they think he's the perfect candidate for Italy's Big Brother.  Luciano's family convinces him to audition, and he knocks it out of the park when he does so.  Luciano is told by the Big Brother staff that they will call him if they're interested.  He takes that as a signal that they will call at some point down road.  As he waits to hear from them, Luciano gradually becomes delusional about his nonexistent career as a TV star, and paranoia takes hold of him.  As he becomes more and more disconnected from reality, his obsession with getting on Big Brother takes a toll on his relationship with his wife María (Loredana Simioli) as well as the fish stand he owns.

Reality almost put me down for the count.  It's too predictable.  It's too long.  It's too boring.  Director Matteo Garrone really drops the ball here.  He simply takes too long in getting to the meat of his movie.  Garrone dances around the real point of the film and fills it with entirely too much minutiae.  Luciano's antics with his family, his scheme to sell household robots on the black market, and the unfortunate fact that his family shows way too much skin are not the things we came to see.  The focal event of Reality is Luciano's mental unraveling as he fails to embrace the obvious fact that he didn't make the cut for Big Brother.  By the time we get to the story for which we’ve actually been waiting, Garrone has already lost us.

Tonally, the film can't quite find itself, and Reality is consequently a bipolar film.  The movie feels too playful to be a serious drama and too dark to be a fun comedy.  We've got an ordinary fun-loving family, a playful score, and one personable lead.  At the same time, we have a front row seat to a tragic reality fueled by delusion, obsession, and paranoia.  Ultimately, Garrone doesn't have a clear sense of where he wants this movie to go, and it shows in his final product.

The worst part of Reality is that it excludes what could have been the best part of the movie, what Luciano would do whenever the truth comes crashing down on him.  Sadly, Garrone never really addresses this and leaves the most interesting part of his eccentric film to our imagination.  Reality may have appealed to the jury at Cannes last year, but it's not doing too well here at Sobriety Test.  Reality gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few Sapphire Martinis with this one.  This movie really vindicates me for not watching reality TV.