Cake-making and crime in this film-noir (and surreal bizarre comedy).
'Il pasticciere', (English title; 'The Italian Pastry Chef'), is an Italian film, (with English subtitles), that was shown as part of the Glasgow Film Festival.
Film opens with cleverly placed titles, very appropriate to the film, which also fit in well with the opening scene of a craftsman at his work.
Antonio Catania plays the role of the eponymous Italian pastry chef. We see him at his craft in these early scenes and also later in the film. These scenes reminded this reviewer of John Ventimiglia playing Artie Bucco in 'The Sopranos' TV series. Particularly the scene, when Artie, tired and depressed, cooks the rabbit, and remembers his heritage and his love of cooking.
Here though our pastry chef has never lost his love of cake-making, as we see throughout the film. The chef is a short, stocky man of mature years. He has his workplace, but also travels to other venues for his work. At a private house, for his work, he encounters a dead body. Thus does our cake-maker stumble into a crime-world populated by beautiful women and powerful and dangerous criminals, and also encounters piles of money as well as the police.
At first I was not too keen on this film, finding the situations unrealistic. However as I got used to the style, I really started enjoying this amusing and entertaining film. It is best not to take this comic-thriller too seriously, just enjoy it for what it is. I found it funny, though not in a laugh-out-loud way. The audience seemed to take it far too seriously, yet it contained some very funny farcical moments.
The film has a rather old-fashioned style to it that reminds me of the old Ealing comedies like 'Kind Hearts and Coronets' (1949) or 'The Ladykillers' (1955). Peter Sellers who was in that latter film was also in 'Being There' (1979), a satirical and surreal comedy, which has a similar style to this Italian film. That film, like this film, has a main character who seems to glide, rather than struggle, in an alien world. Like in 'BT', we have some home-spun philosophy thrown into the mix.
Like 'The Sopranos' too, we have flashbacks and nostalgia as the catering world encounters the criminal one. Artie Bucco always struggled as the life of crime impacted on him. In 'Get Shorty'(1995), John Travolta playing gangster Chili Palmer, seemed to effortlessly move from the world of crime to the world of film-making.
Our hero the cake-maker needs all his wits about him as he struggles in this new alien world, and our Italian does end up in an alien world. Karst scenery, and foreigners, suggest some Croatian or Slovenian locations. Is our hero doomed to failure like Artie? Or can he outwit all like Chili?
One of the favourite films of director Alfred Hitchcock was his 1954 black comedy 'The Trouble with Harry'. This film, 'TIPC', is similar in style, tone and content. There is some romance, beautiful women exuding their sexuality, oh, and lots of cake-making too. Many can make cakes, but to make a thing of beauty requires a true artist and true dedication. Like the cakes, this film too, is a piece of art.
Funny film. 9/10.
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