Where Am I Going?: Public service pathos

October 14, 2016


Where Am I Going? (Quo Vado?) (M)

Rating: 4.5 / 5


It’s easy to see why Where Am I Going? is such a box office hit in its native Italy and has been taken to the hearts of so many across the globe. It’s funny; very funny. And it’s funny in a gentle, chaotic way.

We first meet the hapless protagonist Checco (Luca Medici, an Italian TV comedy star who also co-wrote the film) in the African jungle (very Hollywood in its styling). Here he is captured by an aggressive-looking tribe and dragged in front of the chief who asks him to plead for his soul through an account of his life. 

Checco is 39 and still living at home with his doting mother but in his mind he is ‘living the dream’ of a cushy, well paid, permanent job in the public service (‘il posto fisso’). It had been his aim since he was a small boy and life is good. The election of a new government, which aims to target waste and cut back on bureaucracy, means that people like Checco are right in their sights. 

A change manager moves him to increasingly difficult posts after he refuses offers of redundancy and he eventually ends up at the North Pole. Even there he lucks out when he meets and falls in love with a young scientist Valeria (Eleonara Giovanardi). The downside for slacker Checco is that he is going to have to work on a relationship with this woman and work on himself.

Valeria has adopted the politically correct ways of her adopted country, Norway, and Checco has to change his ways in order to keep up and not be offensive to his partner and her family.

It’s ridiculously silly and ham-fisted at times but the self-deprecation of Checco’s bumbling contrasted with the caring patience of Valeria is part of the secret to this being an international box office success.

For the Italians this is a bittersweet/nostalgic film experience, as for many the idea of a public service job or even any job with some security is becoming a pipedream. Unemployment is more than 11% and short-term poorly paid contracts are becoming the norm. But in classic Italian style they are happy to have a laugh along with Checco as he finds out what the important things in life really are. 

Highlight: Laugh-out-loud comedy
Red flag: Some coarse language


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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