Film review: Dry by Paolo Virzì starring Tommaso Ragno and Monica Bellucci 

The film Dry by Paolo Virzì had its world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival (on 8 September 2022) and was first theatrically released in Italy on 29 September 2022. It has finally reached Britain too available with English subtitles. I recently caught up with Dry‘s star Tommaso Ragno at Cinema Made in Italy festival and will soon report on our chat about life, the world of movies and Rome. 

Dry italian movie siccita starring tommaso ragno posing with monica costa movie poster

Actor Tommaso Ragno and London Mums magazine’s editor Monica Costa


The story

In a dystopian present, it hasn’t rained in Rome for three years and a series of characters must cope with the drought that has reduced water reserves to a minimum and with an epidemic of sleeping sickness carried by cockroaches.

The trailer


The verdict 

Dry is an intense, thought-provoking, and highly engaging apocalyptic drama that was shot before the pandemic but feels more relevant than ever. Directed by Paolo Virzì, with a screenplay by Paolo Giordano, Dry is set in a dystopian present where it hasn’t rained in Rome for three years, and a series of characters must cope with the drought that has reduced water reserves to a minimum and with an epidemic of sleeping sickness carried by cockroaches.

The film opens with a picturesque view of Rome, the eternal city, but things take a dramatic turn when a news report highlights the dire situation of the city. The water reserves have reduced to a minimum, and the city is on the brink of a severe water crisis. As the city struggles to cope with the drought, a new epidemic of sleeping sickness breaks out, carried by cockroaches.

Dry features an ensemble cast, which includes Silvio Orlando, Valerio Mastandrea, Sara Serraiocco, and Monica Bellucci. Each character is unique and brings their own story to the film. There isn’t a main protagonist. There aren’t many characters whose stories somehow get intertwined throughout the course of the film. Fabio (Valerio Mastandrea), is a lonely taxi driver separated by his doctor’s wife, who is trying to stay awake whilst driving as he is starting feeling sleepish. Marta (Barbara Ronchi), is an environmentalist who is fighting against the city’s water mismanagement. Other notable characters include Marcello (Silvio Orlando), a lonely old man who is living in an abandoned hotel, and Rosa (Sara Serraiocco), a young woman who is trying to find her way in the world.

The film’s screenplay is excellent, and the characters are well-developed. The dialogue is witty, and the irony is spot-on. Despite the film’s apocalyptic theme, the humor is never forced, and the characters remain relatable and likable throughout. The film is also visually stunning, with beautiful shots of Rome’s iconic landmarks, juxtaposed with the city’s decay and desperation.

One of the film’s strengths is its ability to tackle serious issues, such as water mismanagement and environmental degradation, while still remaining light-hearted. The film shows the devastating effects of a severe drought, including the impact on agriculture, the economy, and people’s daily lives. The film also touches on the consequences of human negligence and the need for individuals to take responsibility for their actions.

Dry‘s take on the epidemic of sleeping sickness carried by cockroaches is both absurd and comical, adding to the film’s overall sense of humor. The characters’ reactions to the epidemic are both humorous and relatable, highlighting the absurdity of the situation while still remaining grounded in reality.

The film’s ensemble cast is exceptional, with each actor delivering a memorable performance. Valerio Mastandrea’s portrayal of Fabio is particularly noteworthy, as he effortlessly brings charm and charisma to the character. Monica Bellucci’s appearance in the film is brief but impactful, adding to the film’s overall star power.

Dry is a film that will leave audiences smiling, despite the seriousness of the issues it tackles. The movie’s message is clear, that individuals must take responsibility for their actions and make changes to prevent environmental degradation. The characters are relatable and likable. The film’s dystopian setting is both realistic and absurd, highlighting the absurdity of the situation while still remaining grounded in reality.

The film’s cinematography is also noteworthy, with beautiful shots of Rome’s iconic landmarks and stunning aerial views of the city. The film’s use of color is also excellent, with the city’s decay and desperation portrayed through muted colors and the occasional burst of vibrant hues.

Dry‘s pacing is excellent, with the narrative flowing smoothly from one scene to the next. The movie’s climax is particularly noteworthy, as the characters come together in the sudden rainfall finale.


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