Big gifts often come wrapped in small packages, but this Italian feature (alternately titled 'Tottering Lives', or 'A Tottering House') is so small and unassuming it almost disappears on screen. The entire scenario could easily fit into less than ten words: two elderly friends share an apartment with a modest Russian woman. Nothing much occurs here that wouldn't happen in real life between a trio of respectable senior citizens, making the film somewhat anemic in terms of drama and pacing, but rich in simple pleasures, chief among them the gradual discovery of each character. Teo is the more shy and remote of the two older men, content to simply idle away the hours of each slow day, unlike his more outgoing and extroverted friend Giovanni, with the balance between them provided by their demure roommate Maria. It's a quiet, uncomplicated film built on equal parts dignity, compassion, and humor, with a trio of unforced, natural performances. After less than ninety minutes it ends a bit abruptly, but long before wearing out its welcome.
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