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The Boston Globe

Movies

Movie Review

A sharp look at the ‘Reality’ of modern fame

The star of “Reality,” Aniello Arena, has the face of a clown who hasn’t yet realized the joke’s on him. He has a long, long jaw and a nose that’s almost a punch line in itself; dark eyes that are alternately friendly and antic. Even his thinning hair seems to give off sparks. He could be Roberto Benigni’s second cousin, less cherubic, less annoying, more grounded and more doomed.

The film’s about what happens when Arena’s character, an easygoing Neapolitan fishmonger named Luciano, gets seduced by the promise of reality TV, in this case the smash hit Italian version of “Big Brother.” The movie’s a funny, dark, increasingly razor-sharp inquiry into the metaphysics of modern fame — how the dream of “being seen” and thus validated on some primal level can completely unhinge the average schmo. As cautionary tales go, this one’s ripely knowing, and it speaks in a lot more languages than Italian.

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