In Luigi di Donato’s IL PERICOLO DEL VERO (THE TRUTH DANGER) (2017, a man struggles with memory, unsure of what did or did not happen. But, in a larger sense, the film is interested in the masks we wear and how—if at all—those masks speak to what’s going on inside of us.

In the film, the unnamed protagonist (Giovanni Pagliaroli) lives his day-to-day life, going to work and being a normal citizen. However, as the film progresses, he appears compelled to take a trip to the country, perhaps to attempt to remember something that he has tried to forget. As he takes his journey, ghosts appear to him to reveal past nightmares—or perhaps even past actualities.

The film’s most interest sequence is the shift from the more realistic milieu to the highly artificial theatrical stage. The protagonist is reaching deep into the art of melodrama, shouting to an empty theater “I didn’t want this.” The “this”—in this particular scenario, could mean a lot. On this one hand, it could mean anything, his bourgeois life, his job, his car. But more likely, he means his memories, or the fundamental knowledge of the truth of who he is.

The film’s plunge into the highly theatrical augments the early narratives highly melodramatic sensibilities, perhaps even calling into question the truth of the previous story. Here, the piece seems to revel in its own performance, aware of the possibility of the masks of theatrical performances and those of our performances in the rest of the world may be more similar than different. As such, it brings a sense of playfulness to what seems to be a rather serious text. While the film has challenges as a naturalist piece, its move toward theatricality marks it as a more thoughtful interaction between highly performative theatrical drama and the more naturalistic drama of narrative film.