Three different stories of Italian social mores are presented. In "Adelina", unemployed Carmine Sbaratti and his wife Adelina Sbaratti survive through Adelina selling black market cigarettes on the street. They are unable to pay for the furniture they bought (which is under Adelina's name), but are able to avoid the bailiff when he comes for the money or to repossess. They come up with a longer term solution to avoid Adelina being prosecuted for non-payment, but that solution has a profound effect on the family, especially Carmine. In "Anna", Anna Molteni, the spoiled wife of a successful businessman, and an artist named Renzo are on the cusp of an affair. Anna is feeling neglected in the marriage, as her husband seems more concerned about success and money than her. But a car accident shows both Anna and Renzo if an affair with each other is really what they want. In "Mara", Mara is a prostitute who works out of her apartment. She befriends Umberto, a young man visiting his ...Written by
There is such a delightful playfulness to this trio of tales about relationships between men and women in Italy. Sophia Loren is in three different roles – a poor mother in Naples who keeps getting pregnant and having children to postpone being jailed for failing to pay debts on her furniture, a rich woman in Naples who has had a one-night stand while her husband is away at a conference and has picked him up the following day in her Rolls-Royce, and a high-class courtesan who does business out of her apartment overlooking Piazza Navone in Rome, attracting the attention of a young man studying to be a priest. I wouldn't say Loren has exceptional range, but she does turn in a solid performance, and plays feisty, haughty, seductive, angry, and bemused pretty well, all while being quite entertaining. Marcello Mastroianni is her counterpart in each tale (one of the clients in the last, not the young man), and is similarly engaging. It was nice to see him so light on his feet as he moved around in that last tale; his expressions were over-the-top (in a good way), and it was funny to see him ask Loren to dress up as a schoolgirl, and then watch her reaction.
The movie feels quintessentially Italian, as the characters are animated and highly expressive. There is also a feeling of genuine humanity and community. There is an honesty here, as each of the stories quite openly acknowledges sexual urges in both men and women as being natural and a positive thing, which is quite refreshing. At the same time, it remains decent and acknowledges a sense of higher morality. In the first tale, Loren's character is tempted but does not sleep with her brother-in-law when her husband can't get her pregnant again, accepts going to jail, and talks to the prisoners there without an ounce of judgment about why they're there. In the second, Mastroianni's character realizes how shallow Loren's is when she's more concerned about damage to her car after they nearly run over a child. In the third, Loren's character realizes that despite an antagonistic relationship with the young man's grandmother (played fantastically by Tina Pica), she has common ground with her, and must persuade the boy to stay on his path. How nice it is that director Vittorio De Sica shows us that these things – lust and morality – can exist side by side, perfectly well.
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