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In the dysfunctional Italian middle-class family Ristuccia, the middle-aged executive Carlo has a stalled life without passion, bored in his work and having a monotonous life with his wife Giulia. Giulia is a frustrated and hysterical woman because she gave up of being an actress in her youth to dedicate to the family. Their needy son Paolo feels lost and rejected, trying to find who he is and flirting with a schoolmate. Their seventeen years old daughter Valentina is decided to work in a television show, and is fighting to have an audition. When Carlo meets his former sweetheart Alessia in a class reunion, they confess to each other that their marriages are in crisis and both feel passion arising again. Meanwhile Giulia is invited to an audition in a stage production and to participate of a play. Paolo tries to make friends using marijuana in his birthday party, and Valentina has sex with different guys trying to be a dancer of the famous TV show 'Ali Babbi'. Their relationships ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tell me the truth Valentina, what do you think of me? What am I like from the outside?
You know what I think about you.
Tell me anyway.
I think you're clueless and inexpressive, when you talk it sounds like you've got a rag in you mouth and people can't understand a f**k, you don't shower and you dress like a communist loser when the world goes in the opposite direction. This is what I think.
No, that's enough.
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Great beginning, but far too moralistic at the end!
Ok, we read/heard/saw a lot here in Italy about Muccino's new production before its release and perhaps i was somehow expecting too much when I finally saw it. The movie deals with the difficulties of an italian family whose members either face their youth's broken dreams or try (too?) hard to make them become real.
It opens nicely: the characters' personalities are presented in a lively and pleasant way. Carlo's (F. Bentivoglio) routine life is shaken up after meeting casually a former love from high school, Alessia (M. Bellucci); both turn out to be left unsatisfied by their present situation, for slightly different reasons however (one lost his ambitions of becoming a writer, the other is simply hurt by the husband's behavior). They feel attracted by each other again, then decide to catch this opportunity for a brand new start. Carlo's frustrated wife Giulia (L. Morante) once wanted to be an actress on stage but ends up a school teacher because supposedly of her husband's jealousy. It's at the moment her daughter Valentina (N. Romanoff) decides to become a TV starlet that she's offered her first role. Few can be said concerning Carlo's pot-smoking son, Paolo. Well, he appears in sharp contrast with all the other protagonists by his lack of ambitions; his main problem appears to be finding (and keeping) a girlfriend.
I really enjoyed the first hour: the rhythm goes higher and higher as the main two characters start again to burn for each other. The scene between Carlo and his boss is simply fantastic in the italian version. Monica Bellucci looks very natural as a beautiful and decided mother in her late thirties. The action is well served by a succession of short but efficient scenes with a very mobile camera and sharp dialogs.
Afterwards, the movie sinks into a moralistic tale for conventional italian middle-class. A long description of the superficial and twisted world of TV where Valentina wants to dig her own hole at any cost; is there anything original inside all that ? Besides, not a single minute is spent on her feelings; could it be a 17yrs old girl with no apparent problems filled only with egoism and cynicism ? If yes, what about explaining that a little bit ? Meantime Laura Morante shows all her (big) talent in her hysterical scenes but this doesn't save the day because of many shortcomings in the script. Among many others: how it can be that someone who's ready to leave his family completely forgets to call back for days and weeks ? What about the TV guy getting mad in his house because of his child he cannot see: does this bring anything to the movie's main concern ? And this ultimate try of Carlo trying to meet again with Alessia despite the fact it's not known if he's still able to have sex anymore ...
A question raises naturally: why did the director choose to represent every woman (either Alessia or Valentina) who wants to achieve something different compared to the standard italian housewife in such a negative way ? Besides, I've not been able to understand if Carlo's book is crap or not or if Giulia's play is interesting or ridiculous (at least we know it's noisy!). All these points are left open and this prevents the watcher to make any kind of judgement about the adults while the kids are depicted in a simplistic way.
All in all, it could have been a great movie: good actors involved in an interesting plot shot in a beautiful location. However, the second part of the film leaves the impression that the director hasn't been able to make all that stick together and then decided himself for a dull conclusion.
*** out of 5.
7 of 13 people found this review helpful.
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