31 January 2001 | Aw-komon
An Hilarious neo-realist comedy with Brains courtesy of Maestro Zurlini
Zurlini's first film is already his first superlative-worthy masterpiece, a fantastically perceptive neo-realist comedy beautifully shot by the legendary Gianni di Venanzo in superpoetic, perfectly contrasted, deep-focus, state of the art mid-'50s black and white. It depicts the wiles and seduction techniques of a working class Don Juan named Bob (after Robert Taylor) as he goes around trying to make full use of his attractiveness to women, attempting to balance unscrupulous behavior and a need for freedom with cultural pressures and a relatively soft heart. Needless to say, he ends up biting a little more than he can chew on and farce makes its entrance, Italian style. There aren't many films that keep a smile on your face from beginning to end simply because there's no need to cut through some thick hypocritical B.S. to get to the essentials, the 'truths,' a film universally valid about almost every observation that it makes--Zurlini's "Girls of San Frediano" is one of them. Zurlini's art is based on his own poetic variation on the moral imperatives of neo-realism, firmly rooted in the significance he gives to ambiguous reality above any film-editing that pins things down to one interpretation, the way 99.9% of Hollywood films and European Cinema-of-Quality films were made, always telling you exactly what to think, in case you happened to have any doubts. `The Girls of San Frediano'manages to be accessible and amusing to almost anyone without sacrifcing wit in the process. The cultured wit of Zurlini turns the film into a psychological study of human vanity in action worthy of Rohmer, Bunuel, and Fellini, captured in all its essentials and held up for examination, interpretation, and true enlightenment.