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Samuel Le Bihan
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Melancholy working class Latin lover organizes garden party for masters
Pupi Avati is one of the greatest contemporary Italian movie makers. All his films I know take place in the Emilia Romagna region, the lower parts of the southern Po valley that border the Adriatic sea. For him the Emilia Romagna seems to be what New York is for Woody Allen. Not unlike Allen, Avati probes into the male mind - and he reveals that the Italian "macho" is anything but the stereotype that is generally known around the world. This movie is highly comic but also tragic, romantic, the set a perfect, beautifully filmed dreamscape.
Festa di Laurea (graduation party) is a film about times of change. The story is set at the end of World War II. A middle aged working class man who has just started his own bakery trying to mass produce pastry for the expected influx of mass tourism on the Adriatic has agreed to prepare a completely run down beach house with an overgrown garden for a graduation party. The weekend house and garden are owned by rich townspeople. The man's mother once was their cook, and the man fell eternally in love with the family's daughter when she kissed him in a moment of senseless euphoria (the cause of the excitement being Fascist Italy's entry into war against France). The graduation party is given for this woman's daughter, and the working class man cannot but accept the request of his secret love.
Together with three oddball youngsters the man does the almost impossible and prepares the party on the given extremely tight schedule although he is treated with the utmost contempt by his employers. It's plainly visible here how deeply you can fall when you're in love and how "positive thinking" can save you even then from mental breakdown. The story builds up to a surprise ending that is at the same time nasty and strangely consoling.
Festa di Laurea is an absolute masterpiece. I give it a ten out of ten without hesitation. Some very beautiful, perfectly preserved Italian vintage cars of the fifties drive up to the weekend house at various moments.
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