An Italian tells his story of love to a Russian. In a series of flashbacks, Romano Patroni leaves his wife to visit a spa where he falls in love with a Russian woman. He returns to Italy resolved to leave his wife and marry his love.
Aboard a ship early in the 20th-century, a middle-aged Italian tells his story of love to a Russian. In a series of flashbacks filmed almost entirely in creams, whites, and ochers, the clownish and superfluous Romano Patroni leaves his wife's opulent home to visit a spa where he falls in love with a Russian woman whose marriage is a horror. He pursues her into the Russian heartland and returns to Italy resolved to leave his wife and marry his love. His amazed and appreciative Russian listener then narrates a shorter story.Written by
This Russian-Italian co-production from 1987 finds two older men, one Italian, the other Russian, talking in the empty dining hall of a slow ocean liner. The Italian tells his story in flashback, as we see him fight with his rich wife, which sends him to a health spa to recuperate, where he meets a bored, young and beautiful Russian woman who is herself unhappily married. After many overtures toward a romance, the Russian wife flees back home, and the Italian follows her, ostensibly on business, but truly in hopes of sparking the romance further.
The film is gorgeously photographed, and much attention is paid to costume and set design, as well as delicate color schemes. Marcello Mastroianni received his final of three Best Actor Oscar nominations for this, and he's wonderful as usual. Silvano Mangano plays his wife, and Marthe Keller appears as a family friend. I wasn't familiar with the Russian leads, Elena Safonova and Vsevolod Larionov, but they are fine as well. The story drags a bit in places, and lengthy passages of Russian without subtitles started to detract after a while (I'm not sure if this was the fault of the print I watched, or if it was intentional, to show the language barrier faced by Mastroianni's character).
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