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Tommaso (Willem Dafoe) has decided to leave art behind and dedicates his time to being a house husband, but secretly the yearning for his old life keeps getting greater.


American director Abel Ferrara has been living in Rome for years now and is married to actress Christina Chiriac. The couple has a daughter named Anna and Ferrara has been working on an elaborate film project set in Siberia for many years. In TOMMASO, Abel Ferrara‘s new fillm, Willem Dafoe plays American director Tommaso who lives in Rome with his wife Nikki and their daughter Deedee (played by Chiriac and Anna Ferrara) and is faced with the problem of shooting a difficult film set in Siberia. He becomes more and more frustrated and starts having delusions. It doesn‘t even need to be mentioned that a big portion of the film is filmed in Ferrara‘s expansive Roman apartment.

A cinematic self-portrait or a fictional film about a film director? One can‘t be too sure, especially because Dafoe is also a good friend of Ferrara‘s and his character is inspired by the New Yorker‘s quirks and troubles. He also brings some of himself into the role, like when Tommaso leads an acting workshop where he gives advice that‘s identical to the approach that Dafoe himself has discussed in the past. With visuals from Werner Herzog‘s regular cinematographer Peter Zetlinger, TOMMASO is an improvised, quickly-shot film that‘s partially authentic, like when it ties in real places and people, and artificial in others, like when Tommaso imagines being crucified, referencing one of Dafoe‘s most famous roles as Jesus Christ. The metatextuality shouldn‘t divert from the fact that Ferrara and Dafoe shed a fascinating and sobering light on the creative process that is usually not very glamorous and rather difficult and filled with obstacles, obstacles that partially come from the outside but are above all internal as it's chiefly about battling one‘s own demons.

Michael Meyns

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Tommaso
Italien 2019, 115 min
Genre: Drama
Director: Abel Ferrara
Author: Abel Ferrara
DOP: Peter Zeitlinger
Montage: Fabio Nunziata
Music: Joe Delia
Distributor: Neue Visionen
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Cristina Chiriac, Anna Ferrara
FSK: 12
Release: 13.02.2020




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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