"Dreaming by Numbers," Anna Bucchetti's charmingly offbeat look at Neapolitans' love of betting on lottery numbers, intriguingly presents a lighter side of Naples while it wisely connects the phenomenon to the population's long history of surviving poverty. Her subjects are richly human and imaginative, even when achingly poor, and their tragedies are naturally interwoven with their betting strategies. A shorter 58-minute version should persuade TV buyers to gamble on this Dutch production, which has been a popular festival item in its 75-minute cut.
Film is centered around a quaint little lottery office in the inner city. The same family has run it for more than 100 years, and the women behind the counter have an encyclopaedic knowledge of "La Smofia," the ancient book capable of turning any dream or weird event into numbers, for a 1e ($1.20) bet. Keeping a light touch, Bucchetti zeroes in on a transvestite who organizes bingo games at home and a historian who explains how buying a lottery ticket is used by poor people to keep hope alive. Stefano Bertacchini's stunning B&W images create a nostalgic '50s mood, aptly accompanied by Lucio Galiendo's elfishly humorous score.
Camera (B&W), Stefano Bertacchini; editor, Katarina Turler; music, Lucio Galiendo. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 15, 2006. Italian dialogue. Running time: 75 MIN.