Friday, June 20, 2014

Marriage Italian Style

Matrimonio all'italiana; drama / comedy, Italy, 1964; D: Vittorio De Sica, S: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Aldo Puglisi, Tecla Scarano

Naples. A sick woman, Filumena, is brought to her bed. Her former lover, Domenico, is summoned to her because she is, allegedly, on her deathbed. Domenico then remembers how they met in a brothel: during World War II, Filumena was a 17-year old prostitute and remembered Domenico years later. They had an affair, but he, a respected and wealthy pastry manager, was always reluctant to enter a marriage with an ex-prostitute. Back in present, Domenico accepts Filumena's last wish and marries her. However, as soon as they are married, it turns out Filumena was healthy all along and just tricked him into marrying her. She then also admits that she has three sons, and that one of them is his. Unable to find out which of the three is his, Domenico accepts all three of them.

Sophia Loren received her second Golden Globe and Oscar nominations in the rather well done "Marriage Italian Style" that traverses between a drama and a comedy, yet that is not among her finest (or most popular) collaborations with film partner Marcello Mastroianni. Vittorio De Sica abandons his neorealism style to adopt to a more simple, accessible style, which does not mean that the film is without its merits: it starts out as a drama, only to turn into a comedy in a 'comic twist' some half way into the film, where Loren's character, Filumena, tricks her lover Domenico into marrying her by pretending to be terminally ill and bedridden - the sequence where he, after a hasty wedding, phones a woman, and Filumena suddenly pulls away the curtain behind him and is healthy, on her feet again, is comic gold. It would have been great if the film continued with such a high impression, but it did not. And it seems it did not even try to, figuring it was enough of effort. The second half of the storyline, where Filumena also discloses she secretly had three kids, is all right, but only moderately amusing and inspiring, while a greater point is left out as the closing credits start to roll. Overall, a light, occasionally fun little love film with a few comical dialogues ("You can only have a heart attack if you have a heart!") that offer a smooth viewing, yet without some truly fantastic moments that will make the viewers think "brilliant" as soon as they see it.


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