This evening I at last watched Nanni Moretti’s 1993 Caro Diario (my thanks to E for the loan and the patience). It won Moretti the prize for best director at the 1994 Cannes International Film Festival. I hadn’t known quite what to expect, thinking it to be an autobiographical film about a brush with cancer. Well, it is that, in part, but only in part. As the title suggests, it is a series of diary entries, written, spoken and acted primarily by Moretti. There are three sets of entries: on my vespa, islands, and doctors. In the first, which I found the most lyrical and evocative, Moretti drives his vespa around a mostly deserted Rome, accompanying the images with a series of apparently unconnected disquisitions on cinema, films and urban life. This section ends with Moretti seeking out the place near Ostia where Pier Paolo Pasolini was murdered (he finds a decaying and apparently forgotten concrete monument). On a few occasions I knew that Rome. It is the Rome of very early summer mornings when only the cats in the monuments seem to be alive. The next part is a journey, by ferry, through the Aeolian islands, accompanied by a Joyce-loving friend who becomes fixated on American soaps. Here, Moretti mixes farce and satire but keeps those disquisitions going. The last part is a reconstruction of Moretti’s quest to find the cause of a mysterious ailment he experienced. Depending on which branch of medecine (including Chinese and reflexology) he consults, he is given different diagnoses and treatments. Finally, after an X-ray, he is correctly diagnosed with a treatable lymphatic system tumour. Moretti describes the sequence of events but lets the experience speak for itself. If any of the treatments he had been prescribed had worked, he would probably have believed that that particular diagnosis was correct. On the other hand, when the true cause of his illness is identified, the indicative symptoms were precisely those that he had been suffering. There is an excellent passage where Moretti is told that his symptoms are psychosomatic. He finds this so obvious that he believes it, although part of him knows that it cannot be true. Yes, this film is a vehicle for Moretti himself (a distinctive element of his art) but it is also an almost Montaigne-like collection of essays and reflections about life and art.