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Pretentious, annoying, often ridiculous Italian drama
I saw this movie at the 2006 Locarno Film Festival, where it screened in the Piazza Grande, alongside other strongly anticipated flicks that would have their European premiere on the main square's huge screen. Most of the films were good, some (Miami Vice, Little Miss Sunshine) close to perfection. Quale Amore (What Love), on the other hand, is a stinker, shown at the festival only because the director, Maurizio Sciarra, is quite popular there (no one else has ever heard of him). It's really, really bad.
The movie begins on a bleak note, as we're introduced to Andrea (Giorgio Pasotti), an odd-looking 30-year old who, while sitting on a plane with his mother, tells her: "If everyone on this plane died, I'd be happy". When they land, she leaves him in horror, although he doesn't remain by himself: he's joined by a fellow passenger (Arnoldo Foà), who asks him to tell his story while they wait for the next flight. Andrea is puzzled by the request, but accepts: "I killed my wife, almost three years ago. Voluntarily."
That cold confession starts the story, mostly set in Lugano, Switzerland: it is here that the young man first meets Antonia (Vanessa Incontrada), a talented piano player. Just a few hours after their first meeting, the two have sex (a fact that contradicts Andrea's earlier statement "I wanted a pure girl"), and almost as quickly they get married and have two kids. That's when things start going downhill. The man's increasing jealousy spawns heated arguments, accompanied by violent intercourse. This can lead to only one thing. Hence Andrea's current situation.
Quale Amore could have been better, hadn't Sciarra messed up so many things: for one, by letting us know how it ends, he robs the film of even the slightest suspense. Moreover, the screenplay is based on a story by Tolstoj, and it shows: large portions of dialogue sound so awfully dated, adding to the boredom factor. Another huge problem is Vanessa Incontrada: she's quite sexy (as the nude scenes testify), but that doesn't count that much when you cast a TV host instead of a proper actress. She does try to pull off a decent job, I'll give her credit for that. Pity all the bits where she starts to show some talent are followed by increasingly embarrassing sex/rape scenes (coincidentally, or maybe not, Last Tango in Paris' Maria Schneider has a supporting role as the couple's housekeeper). As for the murder, when it occurs it looks like a Scary Movie outtake.
Not all in the movie is bad, mind: Pasotti is sufficiently creepy as the wounded protagonist, and Foà, the mysterious, understanding listener, steals every single scene in which he appears. Sadly, by the time their chemistry really kicks off, no one cares for the film anymore.
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