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Director's Cut

Director's Cut

by Arthur Japin, David Colmer

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Based on a true story, Arthur Japin’s new novel is a tale of consuming love and artistic creation that reimagines the last romance of the legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini.

In Director’s Cut we enter the mind of Snaporaz, the lion of Italian cinema, as he slips into a coma in his final days. Having always drawn inspiration from the world of his


Based on a true story, Arthur Japin’s new novel is a tale of consuming love and artistic creation that reimagines the last romance of the legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini.

In Director’s Cut we enter the mind of Snaporaz, the lion of Italian cinema, as he slips into a coma in his final days. Having always drawn inspiration from the world of his dreams, he welcomes the chance to take account of his life and, in particular, his most recent love affair, with a beautiful but tempestuous young actress called Gala. Here is the story as Snaporaz tells it.

Lured by the glamour of Rome, Gala and her boyfriend, Maxim, an actor as well, are hoping to be discovered when they manage the impossible: entrée to the studio of the great master. Despite an age difference of four decades, Gala soon becomes Snaporaz’s mistress, leaving Maxim, guardian of her secrets and her fragile health, to be an anxious and helpless observer of her physical and spiritual decline. As Gala becomes increasingly dependent on Snaporaz’s attentions, her desperation never to disappoint him leads her down a reckless path to anorexia and prostitution before the one true bond in her life is restored.

Snaporaz’s intoxicatingly baroque—Felliniesque—account of the affair slyly challenges us again and again to ask what is dream and what is reality, and to conclude that the difference is irrelevant when such a genius immerses himself in his most natural element: the imagination. A dazzling tale from one of Europe’s most celebrated writers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This story of romance between a young Dutch actress and a slightly fictionalized Federico Fellini flounders on poor plotting and overwrought prose. After being reared by a demanding father, Gala and an ambiguous male companion named Maxim travel to Rome in the 1970s to find their fortune as movie stars. There, the beautiful and epileptic Gala eventually attracts the ardor of Fellini stand-in Snaporaz. Told partially in the third-person and partially as Snaporaz's elegiac reminiscences, this potentially interesting story is hampered by clumsy prose; Snaporaz's frequent pronouncements often come off as banal or pretentious (“I gather strange butterflies. My white is made up of so many colors”). Plot momentum might have made such stylistic lapses easier to overlook, but Japin chooses to let his aspiring actors simmer in Italy with little to do for so long that Snaporaz's and Gala's eventual romance feels anticlimactic and belated. Though Japin, author of the widely praised In Lucia's Eyes, brings together a number of promising elements, this book comes up short. (Feb.)
Library Journal
This is a novel of young love, but it is also an engaging philosophical treatise on the power of imagination. Similar to Japin's last two novels (The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi and In Lucia's Eyes), this is a work of historical fiction. Incorporating elements of his autobiography into the fabric of the narrative, Japin (fictionalized here as the character Maxim) details the dissolution of Maxim's relationship with a young actress, Gala, via a love triangle with the famed Italian director Federico Fellini, whom Japin here refers to as Snaporaz. Japin's innovative approach is to advance the story of Maxim and Gala within the narrated memory of Snaporaz, interleaving the tales of each man's romance with Gala in a cinematic fashion. The reader is immediately drawn into a narrative wherein a great tale of young adults mixes with Snaporaz's philosophical appreciation for a broadening vision of the arts. VERDICT Japin successfully delivers a heartbreaking description of that most elusive, complicated, and yet rewarding of human relationships—true love. Although this is evocative of the film Synecdoche, New York, Japin's storytelling is more lucid than Charlie Kaufman's.—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Japin (In Lucia's Eyes, 2005, etc.) follows up two excellent novels rooted in historical fact with a disappointing effort based on his personal history. An Afterword acknowledges that the author and a beloved female friend are the models for Maxim and Gala, Dutch actors who cross the path of legendary Italian film director Snaporaz (read: Federico Fellini) in Rome during the 1980s. The opening chapters introduce us to Gala in 1966, painting a compelling portrait of a seven-year-old who provokes her father with reckless behavior. Maxim enters in 1976, when he and Gala are cast in a play at Amsterdam's student theater. This quiet, cautious young man is drawn to Gala, who galvanizes him with her boldness, and their charged relationship is sealed when he nurses her through an epileptic fit. Thereafter, Maxim is constantly reminding Gala to take her medication and fussing over her more like a father than a lover. Indeed, we learn after they arrive in Rome that they don't have sex, for cloudily explained reasons. Engaging monologues by Snaporaz are interpolated throughout, but the couple doesn't meet him until nearly halfway through the novel, after some La Dolce Vita-esque interactions with a down-at-the-heels aristocrat who pimps Gala out to a Sicilian doctor and an over-the-hill opera director (read: Franco Zeffirelli) who fancies Maxim. Japin vividly evokes the mingled desperation and exhilaration of impoverished actors on the loose in the magnificently corrupt Eternal City. But it all falls apart once Gala becomes Snaporaz's mistress. Despite some thematic mumbo-jumbo about "the more limitations you impose, the more possibilities you create," her self-imposed isolation andinaction-she won't even leave her apartment for fear of missing his phone calls-never makes sense, and Maxim's passive-aggressive response is equally baffling. You know a novel is in trouble when you find yourself thinking that the characters' problems could have been solved by call waiting or a cell phone. Heartfelt, but murky and unpersuasive.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Arthur Japin, born in Haarlem in 1956, studied theater in London and Amsterdam and spent years acting on and writing for the stage, the screen, and television. He has sung with the Dutch National Opera and recently hosted his own television show. Japin’s first novel, The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi, was made into an opera by the British composer Jonathan Dove in 2007. Japin has won many major literary prizes, including the 2004 Libris Literary Prize for In Lucia’s Eyes. Both of these titles have been adapted as stage plays and are set to become major motion pictures. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He has taught at New York University and divides his time between Utrecht and the Dordogne.

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