Dear Diary is a semi-autobiographical film in the style of a documentary directed by Nanni Moretti in 1993. Moretti also played the central character.
The film consists of three chapters (capitoli):
On my Vespa
The first episode follows the director/protagonist riding a Vespa through the neighbourhoods of a summery and half-deserted Rome. Shots of landscape, architecture, and beautiful monuments accompany his thoughts, which range from critiques of Hollywood cinema (specifically the contemporary movie Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), to critiques of banalization of the Italian cinema, to a chance meeting with Jennifer Beals, to sociology and urbanism. The episode ends at Ostia, close to the place where Pier Paolo Pasolini was killed.
The second episode cuts to Moretti escaping from the frenzy of city life on a journey through the Aeolian Islands. Travelling by ferry, his first stop is Lipari where he visits his friend Gerardo (Renato Carpentieri), a scholar studying James Joyce’s Ulysses who had moved to the island eleven years earlier. He retires to study on the lost island where he can’t even receive the television signal. But he is unable to find the tranquillity he desires, due to the number of tourists. So Nanni, accompanied by Gerardo, moves to Salina Island. The two are welcomed by a couple, friends of Gerardo, who seem incapable of managing the education of an extremely over-indulged child. (Indeed, the entire island seems to be under the rule of children.) Gerardo lets himself be influenced by the boy, who spends hours in front of the television, and discovers soap opera. Gradually Gerardo becomes entirely dependent upon the genre. Nanni, now even more exasperated, decides to move, still accompanied by Gerardo, to the island of Stromboli, but even this choice proves unfortunate: the two now have to deal with a megalomaniac mayor who wants to involve them in the most odd projects. While visiting the volcano Gerardo becomes still more gripped by the soap operas, to the point of asking American tourists what happens in the episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful, which haven’t been broadcast in Italy yet.
Disgruntled by the latest failure Nanni decides to move on the island of Alicudi, the least civilized of all, lacking water and electricity. At last Nanni seems satisfied with the accommodation, but Gerardo is impelled to escape from the island as soon as he realizes he cannot follow his favourite soap opera there.
Moretti won the award for Best Director at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.