The Man without Gravity, a modern fairy tail

“The Man without Gravity” suspends Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation for 105 minutes, opting for a fabled reality, one in which a force does not attract the body towards the centre of the Earth. Marco Bonfanti’s film is not about Physics or the Laws that bind us to the physical reality of the natural world, but a contemplation of how these very Laws affect our state of mind. 

Discussing the story’s genesis, Bonfanti says, “we were wondering what the very few objective realities of this planet were, and gravity came to mind”. The Director immediately endeavoured to make a film about a baby that’s born free of gravity’s restrictions. How would such a human navigate, acclimate or for that matter even exist within the confines of our world? Elio Germano, perfectly cast as Oscar – as a man without gravity – plays the character as humanly as possible, perhaps more than expected given the available financial opportunities at his disposal.

The film begins in the wee hours of the morning as Natalia, an expectant mother (Michela Cescon), rushes into a doctor-less hospital to have her baby delivered by the lone employee, an unprepared nurse. The desolate setting and the peculiar manner in which Oscar is born foretells of the sheltered existence that soon follows, notwithstanding a steadfast mother and grandmother who raise him under the most precarious conditions. 

During Oscar’s first moments, he miraculously floats upward like a helium-filled balloon, while still connected to his mother’s umbilical cord. Yet inevitably like most mothers, Natalia spends her time childproofing the home, seeking ways to replace her severed umbilical cord with an invisible one – and in Oscar’s case this involves boarded windows, padded ceilings and a weighted vest. Initially, the man without gravity is a prisoner in his own home, forbidden to leave his house, attend school or speak of his gift. He is a man on lockdown, a not so foreign concept to the pandemic generation.

As the story unfolds, Oscar, like the famed Elephant Man (Joseph Merrick) seeks his freedom and in some ways acceptance, as a novelty exhibit. While exploited and gawked at as a freak and circus act, Oscar’s true gift is revealed – his lightness of being, his refusal to be absorbed into a depraved world. “He is a light man and his lightness is not seen as a superficiality or frivolity, but as a possibility of reacting to the heaviness of this society, of this reality”, says Bonfanti. “The Man without Gravity” has been called a modern day “fable”, and in the traditional sense of the word it is. One can’t help but wonder however, how younger audiences might receive the film, given their world doesn’t necessarily reject “anomalies”. Or for that matter, even adhere to the meaning of the word.

Watch The Man without Gravity on Netflix

Massimo Volpe is a filmmaker and freelance writer from Toronto: he writes reviews of Italian films/content on Netflix