Variety spoke with director and writer, Saverio Costanzo, about his upcoming film, Finalmente L’alba. He explained the plot and Joe’s character. To read about the other characters, check out the article.
VARIETY – Production has just started at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios on “Finalmente L’alba” the new film by “My Brilliant Friend” director Saverio Costanzo. It is set during the 1950s when the famed filmmaking facilities were known as Hollywood on the Tiber.
This high-end costume drama – the title of which translates as “Finally, Dawn Has Come” – features a stellar cast comprising Lily James (“Pam & Tommy”), Joe Keery (“Stranger Things”), Rachel Sennott (“Shiva Baby”), Willem Dafoe, and Italian newcomer Rebecca Antonaci.
“Finally, Dawn” is the journey over the course of a long and intense night of an aspiring young Italian actress, played by Antonaci. In the Cinecittà studios of the 1950s, she experiences some memorable hours that will mark her transition to full blown womanhood.
Written and directed by Costanzo, whose previous films include “Private” and Adam Driver-starring “Hungry Hearts,” the picture is produced by Mario Gianani and Lorenzo Gangarossa for Wildside, which is a Fremantle-owned company. RAI Cinema will release it in Italy via its 01 Distribution unit. Fremantle has a long-term rental deal with Cinecittà.
Variety spoke exclusively to Costanzo about the film in which Lily James plays an American star shooting a swords and sandals film at Cinecittà.
What are the main elements of the story?
It’s about a young Roman woman during the 1950s. She is simple, unsophisticated and on the verge of becoming engaged to a man that her family likes more than she does because he is well-to-do.
The young protagonist played by Antonaci goes to Cinecittà to do an audition as an extra and is thrust into this almost infinite night during which she discovers herself. She finds the most gutsy part of her inner self and taps into her self-awareness thanks to the encounter with a group of [American] actors who are shooting an Egyptian swords and sandals movie at Cinecittà.
It’s a film about the world of show business. So it’s clearly a film on ambitions, on vanity. Since these characters spring from the movie world, and they are making a movie, there are plenty of films inside this film. It’s like a Chinese box.
And Joe Keery’s role?
He plays a young actor named Sean Lockwood who, compared with Josephine, is a newcomer. In this film, Keery plays three characters: an American soldier whom he portrays in a film in which the soldier is among those who free Rome from the Germans [at the end of World War II]; then he plays a Mesopotamian prince in the Egyptian swords and sandals film; and the he plays himself, Sean Lockwood. In this Roman night he will also come to terms with his insecurity, both as an actor and as a man.
So in terms of locations are there both Rome and Cinecittà?
Yes. Last night we were shooting at the Villa of Quintili [an archeological site by the Appian Way], near the villas where all the Hollywood stars stayed in those years. The young girl gets lost in this sort of labyrinth there, and the characters played by Joe Keery and Lily James try to find her. We were in this ancient Roman thermal bath with a gorgeous floor, very tall columns, and no roof, under the moonlight. Joe and Lily were calling out to each other in the labyrinth. It was very moving. It was a mix of avant-garde theatre and our story. That’s the Rome of our film. It’s not postcard Rome. It’s a Rome that tries to help shape the characters. That said, Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish steps which of course are a key aspect of Rome’s iconography, are also central characters in the film. The film opens and closes there.