1 October 2001 | goya-1
a sensitive, intelligent film
Francesca Comencini has directed a sensitive, intelligent film.
Based on two chapters from novel by Italo Svevo, it tells the story of young Zeno, protected scion of a wealthy father. When the father dies, without ever exchanging words of tenderness with his son, Zeno has to get a job; on his father's advice he goes to businessman Giovanni Malfenti (the superb Mimmo Calopresti).
Malfenti takes Zeno, a highly cultured but ineffective dreamer, under his wing; and more importantly he introduces him to his three lovely daughters. Zeno falls for the oldest one (a luminous Chiara Mastroianni), but the others are interested, too... This is a thoughtful, reserved, adult film. Emotions are intense, but kept below the surface; the photography is shadowy; the acting understated and restrained. Above all, I was struck by the film's profound humanity. It makes fun of no one and spares us all pretentious pseudo-philosophical pratter, but shows us civilized men and women who, although often confused, take pleasure in one another's company, and treat each other - usually at any rate - with respect and dignity. A final pleasure: the film is bathed is the unobtrusive but beautiful music of Ludovico Einaudi