Why the new film by Gabriele Mainetti, Freak Out, has it been postponed for it to be released in theaters? What is your ideal audience?

This article is spoiler-free!

I remember seeing a trailer. A trailer that ended with the words "December 16, 2020". A trailer that, in times of a pandemic, gave me something to wait for. It was the trailer for Freak Out, the second film by Gabriele Mainetti.
I didn't know that at the time, but by then the release date had already been postponed once - damn Covid. Then many other things happened, and we got this far.

I wanted to see Freak Out on the day of its release in theaters, October 28th. Not because I'm a hype guy. In fact, expectation and I don't get along very well.
No: I wanted to be there because I had so many questions, growing in my chest for months, and I wanted to answer. And the first of all was: why, apart from the obvious, the release has been postponed so much, still preferring it to online publication?
And I must say that I left the room satisfied, because I feel I have found the answers.
In this article we will briefly see what Freaks Out is about, its pros and cons, but above all why this film has been postponed so much, to make it out for the cinema.

What is it about? Freak Out?

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I don't do reviews. However, I cannot take you with me to this talk without giving you the context first.
So, two little things about the film, all spoiler free.

We are in Rome in 1943 (year in which the city ghetto was rounded up). We have an outcast circus: the owner, Israel (because they had not found a more didactic name); the wolf-man Fulvio, who in addition to hypertrichosis also has hyperforce; the albino Cencio, which controls insects; the dwarf Mario, inexplicably magnetic; and the very young Matilde. She, apparently the most "normal", is the one who has caught the worst bad luck: it cannot be touched, because it gives powerful shocks.
But with the Nazis another circus arrived in the city, the Zirkus Berlin, led by a decidedly less sympathetic outcast and ready to hunt them down for mysterious reasons.
The film is a fantasy (in fact there are no Fascists) in which moments alternate that make others smile much more dramatic, all full of action scenes that are rarely seen in Italian cinema.

The protagonists of Freaks Out. From left to right: Cencio, Israel, Matilde, Fulvio and Mario.
The protagonists of Freaks Out. From left to right: Cencio, Israel, Matilde, Fulvio and Mario.

The pros and cons of the film

Now, to remove all the pebbles from our shoes and to continue with the discussion without ifs and buts, I leave you here in a nutshell the things that I liked and those that I did not like. Let's start with the latter.

The cons of the film in my opinion are:
  1. There is too much stuff;
  2. The motivations of the characters are not always clear;
  3. The dialogues, in which you go from very real exchanges to fake ones like a € 3 coin;
  4. There is too much stuff;
  5. References and situations disconnected from the plot, throw yourself a bit there;
  6. The script is not very strong (especially if you have seen at least one neorealist film and Dark Phoenix);
  7. There is too much stuff;
  8. There is too much stuff.
The pros, on the other hand, are:
  1. Max Mazzotta;
  2. You can't see Claudio Santamaria in the face;
  3. Some genuinely funny jokes and genuine moments;
  4. 141 minutes of duration that I would not have suffered if only they had taken the intermission, allowing me to go to the bathroom;
  5. Action sequences we are not used to in an Italian film;
  6. The “dark” touch to the Resistance.

I am not stepping up to those who have already called it a masterpiece, because They called him Jeeg Robot (Mainetti's debut feature, 2015) has done much more with a tenth of the budget. But I'm not here to talk about this.

A constantly postponed film

Freak Out is shot in 2018 between Lazio and Calabria.
Soon the story of cross references begins. In fact, while at the beginning it should have been released in 2019, due to the long post production the release date is postponed to "Not before January 2020". Which then becomes "22 October 2020". Which then becomes "December 16, 2020". And which then becomes (and remains, finally) "October 28, 2021".

Now, unfortunately, we got used to this rebounding game due to the pandemic, but I was curious.
Indeed, why this film has been moved so far, in order to have it released in the cinema (and not only: in a room that is finally frequented!) while others have opted for online?
Se Mulan (2020) was released on demand for Disney to take the pulse of new platforms, and if Bad stories dei D'Innocenzo suffered the same fate perhaps due to lack of confidence, which is the deal with Freak Out?

Gabriele Mainetti, director of Freaks Out. Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images
Gabriele Mainetti, director of Freaks Out. Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

Why Freaks Out had to go out to the cinema: a question of the public

The answer I gave myself lies in the film itself. Why, after a few minutes from the start, I started wondering: who is this film meant for?

Not so much for the domestic market.
In fact, one of the selling points the presence of Claudio Santamaria is more attractive to the generalist local public. And Claudio Santamaria covered his face with hair, so much so that many of us wondered, seeing the trailers and reading his name: "ma 'ndò is it?".
And also the neorealist taste, Hello Beautiful (which today painfully remembers more than anything else The paper house) and the many elements that say “Italianness” I don't think were there for us.

No. Despite what they were the jealousies of Paolo Del Brocco in 2018, which aimed to guard Freak Out to deliver it to the rest of the world only at a later time, the film is clearly designed to appeal to the international market.
And perhaps this is precisely its true strength: the desire, the desire to break away from what we have become accustomed to in our narrow panorama and Do more.

And in fact, there was an investment. Freak Out it cost more than 12 million euros.
Okay, that's nothing compared to the dizzying $ 300 million set on fire for Mulan (2020), but what matters here is the context. And for the Italian productions 12 million are many:

  • They called him Jeeg Robot it cost 1,7 million (2015);
  • Bad stories of my heart 2 million (2020);
  • The great beauty of Sorrentino 9,2 million (2013);
  • Pinocchio by Garrone 11 million

And with 12 million, Mainetti did a lot more than could be expected. I would be lying if I said that sometimes the taste of "fake" does not remain, but the commitment is there and it shows.

Conclusions: Freak Out it had to go out to the cinema because it is Mainetti's calling card to the international public

Freak Out it's a bet, a bet that must be won. And such a bet is won in theaters, at festivals, in the world, not online.
And if on the one hand it has the defect of not really telling one story (or of telling too many, ending up not telling any), on the other it is a .
A perfect business card of what Mainetti is today and would like to be tomorrow. Of his desire to tell the super, but in the Italian way. To grow and exit a local market, too small for many artists.
And I, despite having preferred his jeeg to his Freak, I sincerely wish him to make it.