As part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019

The film begins with Michael (Vinicio Marchioni) donning a disguise and recording his conversation with a shop assistant as well as waiting outside the house of troubled hairdresser Anna (Sabine Timoteo). This opening creates the impression that the remainder of the film’s running time will consist of an intense thriller, where Michael, who is implied to be working for a mysterious organisation, will either continue to stalk Anna in a cat and mouse pursuit or dispose of her and move on to another target.

However, director Rizzi, who also co-wrote the film’s script, has other ideas, as a chance encounter between Anna and Michael, where the former jumps into the latter’s van to escape her parents, results in the narrative taking off in another unexpected direction. The focus shifts onto Michael and Anna’s growing relationship and individual problems.

Specifically, Anna’s issues initially appear to be related to her chronic insomnia which can only be cured by riding in Michael’s van whilst Michael’s use of disguises is revealed to be partially due to his childhood, which left him without a clear sense of self. Rizzi also skillfully links these psychological elements into the initial narrative set-up, as Anna’s problems and Michael’s reasons for stalking her are revealed to be related to an incident involving Michael’s job, without this twist appearing to be contrived. Instead, it provides a further insight into these damaged characters and their relationship, which becomes more than a simple desire for companionship and reveals more about their own troubled personalities.

These elements are helped by the strong performances from the leads. Marchioni embodies Michael’s existential and psychological unease through a naturalistic performance that not only makes the character seem more realistic but also helps to convincingly convey his earlier, more unsettling appearance during the film’s first act, where his motivations appear to be more mysterious and unclear. In contrast, Timoteo provides Anna with an initially guarded and steely exterior that gradually gives way to reveal a more vulnerable and erratic personality, subverting the conventional romantic archetype of the female lead as a remote ‘ice queen’ who becomes more warm and loveable throughout the course of the film.

As a result of these characterisations and narrative choices, Cronofobia goes beyond its early impressions to create a compelling character study of two troubled individuals trying to use their relationship to deal with their own issues.

UK Premiere screening at Vue Omni Mon 24 June 2019