Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Ieri, oggi, domani; comedy, Italy, 1963; D: Vittorio de Sica, S: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Aldo Giuffre

Three stories: in Naples, the times are tough and Adelina has to resort to selling tobacco on the streets illegally in order to feed her child and unemployed husband Carmine. However, she is caught and the police threatens to arrest her. Luckily, through a loophole in the law, which says that pregnant women cannot be arrested, Adelina quickly becomes expecting and avoids jail. Over the decade, she gets seven children in order to avoid jail, but gets arrested when she cannot get pregnant again. Luckily, the locals collect enough money to free her... Renzo is disappointed that his mistress Anna is far more interested in fancy cars than in people... Mara is a prostitute who has a very aroused client, Augusto, dropping by in her apartment frequently. However, when her neighbor, a young lad, decides to stop pursuing a career as a priest, Mara makes a promise to his grandmother that she will avoid sex for a week if he returns to the convent. When the lad indeed resumes his path as a priest, Mara thus keeps her promise for a week, much to Augusto's dismay.

Director Vittorio de Sica demonstrated that he has a wide array of interest in topics, ranging from bleak, depressive existential dramas ("Two Women", "The Bicycle Thieves") up to optimistic, cheerful comedies ("Miracle in Milan"). His 22nd film "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" belongs in the latter category, and is a light, episodic comedy without too much meddling, which benefits from the very popular Italian screen duo of Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni teaming up once again, and proving once again that they have chemistry, playing three different roles in each segment. The general consensus is that the first and the third story are the best, while the middle one seems incomplete and immature, which is correct. The first story, revolving around a woman who constantly gets impregnated to dodge getting arrested, is fun (the most comical moment is when Carmine's friend jokingly volunteers to "help him out" if he ever has any further problems impregnating his wife), though it runs out of inspiration fairly quickly and ends just in time. The second story - the most serious - revolving around an upper class woman and a man driving in a Rolls Royce through the countryside, could have offered a lot more than we got, and seems more like a filler than a truly good story with a point. The third story is arguably the best, featuring Mastroianni this time as a very horny client, Augusto, who cannot wait to visit his prostitute, Mara, in her apartment, and who gives few very comical lines ("Make a grimace so that you will look ugly and I can finally leave", he says. After Mara makes a grimace, he adds: "No! Even that's hot! Now I'm even more turned on!"; when he reaches the bedroom, he points to the bed: "I want to die there! I will grow roots there and won't get up anymore!"), whereas the erotic highlight is also Loren's striptease near the end, which garnered fame throughout Europe. However, besides that, the film is not that clever as it could have been, and offers good, though not great entertainment.


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