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Light entertaining tribute to golden age Italian cinema
Cristina Comencini's Latin Lover is a light entertaining comedy that is part family drama and at the same time a loving tribute to the golden period of Italian cinema. For all its affectionate tribute to classic Italian cinema, there is one aspect in which Commencini's film differs, and that's in its development of a stronger female focus. The period and the industry that have created these diverse group of women was one very much ruled by men, and Latin Lover seeks to redress the balance a little.
It's an intimate and yet extended family that come together in a reunion, an international family even, because it's the family of the legendary Italian actor Saverio Crispo. Saverio made his name (and spread his love) not just in Italian cinema but across the world; in France, in Spain, in Sweden and (according to the DNA tests carried out) in America also it seems. On the tenth anniversary of his death, the Southern town of Saverio's birthplace are holding a commemoration event with a conference and dedication to the great actor, and this international family are all back together again.
His two wives have come (Virna Lisi and Marisa Paredes) and the four daughters that he fathered, Susanna (Italy), Stephanie (France), Segunda (Spain) and Solveig (Sweden). Shelly, the illegitimate American DNA daughter, is also due to arrive, but hasn't yet turned up. It's probably as well, as the two official Italian and Spanish wives aren't particularly complimentary about her mother, calling her the 'puttana Americana'. There's also another Latin Lover on the prowl, Alfonso, the husband of Segunda, who makes moves now on Solveig, the youngest Swedish daughter. But with other guests and journalists around, there are rumours circulating about other scandals involving Saverio's romantic activities.
There are some clever sequences in Latin Lover of Saverio (Francesco Scianna) playing roles in all the genres of classic Italian cinema that remind you of the vitality and the glamour of the golden age, but among all the comedy, family drama (of the big extended Italian variety) and affectionate nods to the great matinee idols like Marcello Mastroianni, Comencini's film principally serves to display the talents of a new generation of (international) female actors, with great performances from the likes of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Candela Peña. The presence of Virna Lisa, who died just before the theatrical release of the film, adds to the film's nostalgic allure and its message about coming to terms with the past but learning to live with who we are now.
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