31 January 2011 | gradyharp
Italian Men and the Trials of Relationships
4 SINGLE FATHERS is a bit of trifle that serves well on an evening when mental exhaustion cries for something brainless but not insulting. Team written (Craig Carlisle, Gabriele Muccino and Liz Tuccillo) and directed as a first effort for Paolo Monico, the story is light, a bit disconnected, and unable to make up its mind as to whether it is a broad comedy or a touching melodrama.
The story involves four Italian American men who have married four American women and are in a stage of tenuous stability: Jacopo (Alessandro Gassman) is a dentist who is separated from Ilana (Colleen Dunn) and sleeps around offering advice to others regarding relationships; Dom (Francesco Quinn - son of Anthony Quinn) is an architect separated from Julia (Sarah Rafferty) but longs for reconciliation; Ennio (Joe Urla) is a real estate agent whose wife Sarah (Margot White) stuns him with a request for a divorce; George (Lenny Venito) is a NYPD cop married to Maria (Mary Testa) in an abusive relationship. After a barroom struggle the four men become friends - Dom offers Ennio a formula to get his wife back, George's fellow cops play a trick on him trying to make George feel better but the trick results in George leaving Maria unwisely, Dom is called to Rome because of his failing mother and returns to plead with Julia to start over. So we have a quartet of men, two start as single fathers and the remaining two end up as single fathers. Unfortunately there is no real resolution to any of the situations - perhaps the writers could not figure that out or wanted the audience to fill in the blanks.
The four single fathers are played by likable actors without much in the way of character development. The women are played to appear as negative forces. The action takes place on the streets of New York and in apartments, except for a brief excursion to Italy. At the end it feels that if the writers gave as much empathy to all the men as they give to Francesco Quinn's character the movie would have found an audience. As it is it feels like a work in progress.