It's 1899 and in Sasso, the small town in Italy, a marriage is going to take place. Naturally, the end of the century is in everyone's minds at what appears will be a festive occasion taking place during that historical New Year's eve. The only problem is the bride doesn't love the groom; everything indicates this is an arranged marriage by the impoverished family of the bride to a wealthy man.
Pupi Avati, a man who has worked steadily in his native Italy for a number of years is not a well known name among the American movie going public. Mr. Avati deserves much better, as he demonstrates with this tale of how things were done among the moneyed classes in Italy, where a simple wedding takes epic proportions.
Francesca, the beautiful bride doesn't want to get married to Edgardo, who is much older and appears to be a lecher and a profligate. The young woman is torn between duty and her own repugnance toward the man who would be her husband. At this point a mysterious guest appears on the scene. He is Angelo, an Italian who emigrated to America and, according to the popular belief, has made a fortune. Because of the fortune he made abroad, Angelo has been asked by Edgardo, who comes from an upper class background, to be his best man.
Angelo, we find out, has been a lucky man because he didn't built the fortune he now possesses. When his older brother died, he left Angelo everything, thus making him a rich man. Angelo keeps looking at Francesca during the wedding ceremony. It's clear both have developed a passion that is not meant to be. In fact, Angelo is blamed for everything that goes wrong with the wedding.
"The Best Man", the English title for this movie, offers a great performance by Diego Abatantuono, an actor that kept reminding us of Gian Carlo Giannini. In that both rely effectively on the expression of their eyes. In fact, one can see all the emotions going through Angelo just by looking at the actor that is giving him life on the screen to find out what is going on in his head and in his soul. Mr. Abatantuono plays his character with an economy of gestures. Pupi Avati knows what he is doing and nothing prepares us for the outcome of the film.
Ines Sastre, the gorgeous Spanish actress, is perfect as the young bride Francesca who hates the husband her impoverished family has imposed on her. Ms. Sastre is an equal match for her co-star in a subtle performance that could have been overblown by another, less experienced director. Dario Cantareli plays the older groom who wants Francesca.
This film didn't get any attention in this country since there is no market for these types of films. Pupi Avati's work should be seen more often because he hasn't received the recognition he deserves, at least in America.
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