Sacro GRA

After the India of Varanasi’s boatmen, the American desert of the dropouts, and the Mexico of the killers of drugtrade, Gianfranco Rosi has decided to tell the tale of a part of his own country, roaming and filming for over two years in a minivan on Rome’s giant ring road—the Grande Raccordo Anulare, or GRA—to discover the invisible worlds and possible futures harbored in this area of constant turmoil. Elusive characters and fleeting apparitions emerge from the background of the winding zone: a nobleman from the Piemonte region and his college student daughter sharing a one-room efficiency in a modern apartment building along the GRA.


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  • ★★★★★ review by Martin Jensen on Letterboxd

    In Sacro GRA, Gianfranco Rosi explores an entire cross-section of Italian society. Initially linked only through geography (the title refers to a ring-road around Rome, the fringes of the city where they live), the connections between the subjects grow on both a surface level (a photo roman is shown being made in one sequence and read in another, the wife of an eel fisherman using it to improve her Italian) and in more thematic ways (death as the great leveller, insect society as metaphor for human). Its lo-fi digital cinematography avoids voyeurism, sometimes taking a more traditional fly-on-the-wall approach, sometimes positioning itself just beyond the perspective of a human observer. The result is a quietly stunning, deeply humanistic documentary.

  • ★★★½ review by Vadim Rizov on Letterboxd

    Wrote about this here, albeit briefly, in a time crunch, and not all that well. Sort of the opposite of a rapturous city symphony; maybe more of a city traffic jam with time for lots of curious gazing at everyone around with no particular focused gaze.

  • ★★★½ review by kylepsmith on Letterboxd

    I watched this film, gave it 3 1/2 stars, never wrote anything about it couldn't tell you the first thing about it now other than it took place in a lot of apartments and there was some pretty photography.

  • ★★★★ review by Jonathan Storey on Letterboxd

    Rosi's aesthetic - not quite Wiseman-lite, but definitely Wiseman-adjacent - works a lot better when it's got a fuller cast of characters to work with. Lots of humanity, interesting folks on the periphery of Rome, the anti-Great Beauty (but definitely not the great ugliness).

  • ★★★★½ review by John Wilson on Letterboxd

    There's something enthralling about this documentary which structurally amounts to a series of tangentially connected vignettes. It feels pure in a way that other documentaries maybe don't, there are several narratives that can be gleaned though they feel natural, unconstructed by the filmmaker, only captured and left to the viewer for deeper introspection.

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