Aesthetically ,Avati has a very high place in the Italian cinema;as regards the level of continuous quality ,only Fellini,Antonioni and Visconti are his superiorsin the sense that they did not alternate masterpieces and mediocre movies,but have a kept a level of mastership that allows them to be called authors, and not occasional authors (--even for a longer phase of their career,or for a logically placed one
--) of astounding filmsbe they masterpieces (the case of manyfrom Rossellini,De Sica,Pasolini,Bertolucci and many others
). Along his career, Avati maintained a very high artistic position. These being said, The Best Man is not one of his best movies.Yet it is extremely interesting and exciting and charming; what I want to say is that,while not a bad movie, The Best Man is a flawed and misconceived one.It is not bad,on the contraryit is amusing,interesting and exciting.But it is flawed.In the early part of The Best Man,after having read the stupid epigraph that opens the film,then after having now seen the Sandokanesque lead, his bovine air of a perplexed rural Latin lover,the provincial antics of "Francesca",I hoped it was only a farcical device and I began eagerly waiting for the denouement;well,that thing did not come. The Best Man is a provincial,rural romance ,very conventional, sermonizing and melting,of an unpredictable (in an Avati movie) sentimentalism. For me,the whole movie was very unpredictable,because I did not think Avati able of such a piece of sentimental crap.The film is interesting and pleasing despite the script's.This script is so non-Avatian for many reasons;it also tries to dwell on too many themes."The BM" is Avati's camp romance.There are lots of things to be enjoyed in it,but its place it is that of a camp romance.
This extremely awkward contrast between the camp note and Avati's sarcasm and deftness undermines the film's tone and makes it an ultimately unsatisfying experience.The dose of camp romance exposes not so much Avati's inability in treating satisfactory this kind of stuff,but rather his basically very bad choice of a script.Everything that is interesting is something that could be added: striking endocrineailing physiognomies, satirical approach,etc..But with its main theme Avati did not find what to do.The best thing that "ITDS" can do is give one a new appreciation of Avati's other films by simply proving that worse is possibleand in what way.We should not be upset on Avati for this movie;because if he deserves blame for this one,then he certainly also merits praise for the others that are betterand much better."ITDS" should normally enhance the respect for the better Avati films.
There are enchanting Avatian touches:dreamy images;an interesting gallery of women (almost all the women in The Best Man are interestingminus Francesca,unfortunately;but her aunt,her mother, other women present at the wedding party are fine
);an eerie salon of grotesque faces and physiognomies ,and several charges against provincial stupidity; atypical for Avati's movies is the multiplicity of themes (the love vs. marriage without love,of course;but also the end of the XIX century, occasion for mocking the hideous rural versions of the "scientism" current then
;many satirical sketches of the turpitude, ugliness,etc.; many peculiar wedding habits,like the bride sprinkling her body with a liquid prepared by the older women in the house and brought to her by her very loving and fancy aunt;then the quest for virgin people to dress the bride with her lingerie and to prepare the nuptial bed;then the shortness of a wedding party (particularly, of course,when it is a dreadful one,like that in The Best Man
);finally,the creepy fact that the wedding guests take back their gifts at the end.
Let us draw rapidly a short synopsis.First we witness the final preparations for a marriage; the bride does not really want to marry,but her father almost implores her,explaining her again that this wedding is vital for his businessthe girl,"Francesca",being practically bought from her father. Her groom is the son of a local potentate. Then, we see the wedding in the church,the priest telling some gross licentious jokes,etc..Here arrives a man just returned from America;he comes back in Italy rich and respected and courted.At the wedding,he is guest of honor.From the instant she sees him,before the altar, Francesca has a crush for this silent mysterious reserved Italoamerican. Just when asked by the priest if she wants to marry, Francesca runs off and hides in the sacristy;again her embarrassed family has now to appease her.The parishioners suppose that Francesca is pregnant.Finally,the priest marries the couple,and they go to the churchyard, then at the wedding party.Francesca's family notices the exchanges of looks between her and Angelo.He and Francesca's husband take a walk,they talk about women,etc..Angelo then visits some places.It is known that he had a mistress, and everybody is curious about how will their meeting be like. At the party,Francesca's aunt gets drunk,she dances with Angelo,etc..A meeting between him and his former girlfriend is arranged by the groom.Between Francesca and her husband quarrels occur,she does not,of course, want to be his,he is a cynical vulgar profligate,etc..The idyll of Angelo and Francesca is not interesting, and I will not further spoil what happens next.
There is a fine sequence when the servants throw bed-sheets from a higher level, over a balustrade. The execution of the film is Avatian, the quirks are his.Too bad he chose this romance,or too bad he did not succeed in making it his.The motto at the beginning of "ITDS" already gives away the film,and makes a very bad impression.It is below the Avati standards.It is less than we expect from him.And this idyllit is so insipid and trite
.It is of the worse Romanesque provincial taste.And the too campy charactersAngelo and Francescavery disappointing choices.
Movie of a great visual beauty, The Best Man features two rather insipid and banal leads,as "Francesca" and a Sandokan-like uncouth bum named "Angelo".I guess Avati considered him poetic;I found this "Angelo" annoying.Francesca's aunt is delightful.