As Italy succumbs to the fascists, a war veteran and small-town restaurateur falls for a beautiful stranger in Giuseppe Piccioni’s robustly made and excellently acted prewar melodrama
Giuseppe Piccioni is the Italian director whose early movie Light of My Eyes I admired when it came to the London film festival over 20 years ago; somewhat unjustly, he never became a fashionable festival name, like a Sorrentino or a Guadagnino. Now he has made a really involving, melancholy story of prewar fascist Italy, an old-fashioned romantic drama with the storytelling ardour and the melodramatic flourish of page-turning commercial fiction. It is extremely well acted by Benedetta Porcaroli (seen last year in Carolina Cavalli’s Amanda) and that blue-chip Italian male lead Riccardo Scamarcio, known in Hollywood for the John Wick movies and Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie mystery A Haunting in Venice.
Scamarcio plays Luciano, a first world war veteran and restaurant manager in a small Italian town in 1938. Watchful and professional, in periodic pain from a wounded leg, Luciano clearly runs a tight ship and is alert to the needs of his many regular customers, including an ageing, morose law professor who is one of many in the town forced to bite his tongue at the new fascist enthusiasms. Scamarcio’s Luciano is a handsomely moustachioed man of a certain age with a dreamy, almost romantic side, gazing out of the restaurant’s plateglass windows with sad eyes at the piazza beyond, where a fascist girls’ athletic association regularly puts on a surreal rollerskating display – a display so weird that it could almost be happening solely in Luciano’s mind. The bizarre absurdity of this spectacle almost brings us close to Fellini, but not quite. The girls giggle and swoon around visiting fascist officials and there is something sinister in the way one rollerskater appears to fall, perhaps spitefully kicked over, and the rest fail to help her up.
Source link : https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/nov/09/the-shadow-of-the-day-review-old-fashioned-romantic-drama-with-war-lurking-on-the-horizon
Author : Peter Bradshaw
Publish date : 2023-11-09 21:00:02
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