Sunday, March 27, 2005

Watched Agata e la tempesta (Agata and the storm, directed by Silvio Soldini, who also did Pane e Tulipani) which is currently showing as part of the Italian Film Festival. I was entranced by the description of the show which said it was about a woman, Agata (Licea Maglietta), whose life suddenly feels as though it's been thrown into a strange story, and who makes light bulbs blow up when she walks past.

Given that I made street lights in London go out when I walked past, that one phrase was bound to capture my attention.

Agata, in her 40s, runs a bookstore and is able to match customers with books very well. It is this ability that causes a much younger man, Nico (Claudio Santamaria), to fall for her and eventually, after her initial hestitation on account of the age difference, they begin a relationship. Meanwhile, Agata's brother, Gustavo (Emilio Solfrizzi), a talented architect, is leading a contented life with his TV psychologist wife, Ines (Marina Massirani), when his life is thrown into disarray by the discovery that he is not in fact Agata's brother, but that he was bought for the sum of 350,000 lira from his biological mother when he was a baby. Gustavo's hitherto unknown brother, Romeo (Giuseppe Battiston), a fashion designer (if he can be called that) , is the one who hits him with this revelation, when their dying mother (and chicken lover) reveals this on her deathbed.

Thus begins a whirlwind of comedic coincidences. And yes, wacky hi-jinks do ensue. Thereafter, Gustavo withdraws from everyone he's known in a fit of despair, because he doesn't quite know who he is. He'd always thought that his father was a famous architect and that this, in turn, was his own path in life, so what does he do now that he's learnt that he's not really his father's son? Romeo, on the other hand, begins dreaming about what he's always wanted - a trout farm. Meanwhile, Agata, in a tizzy over her own love life because she's in love with an unattainable man, learns that electrical appliances go berserk whenever she's in a state of emotional excitement.

It's incredibly difficult to describe the rest of the movie without giving the whole story away, but suffice it to say that this is a whimsical, heartwarming and sweet comedy about risk taking and the importance of family.

Incidentally, this show is set in the coastal town of Genoa, a place I was supposed to go to during my trip to Italy in 2002 but which I finally decided to skip in favour of Cinque Terre, and also because I'd heard that there was a high amount of crime there due to the number of sailors passing through the city. But the movie didn't show any of that. Rather, it made the region look beautiful indeed.

Favourite moments (SPOILER ALERT):

After Gustavo tells Agata about the phone call from Romeo informing him that he was adopted, Agata responds: The mother was feeling guilty, and she desperately wanted to tell someone. Whenever she looked at her husband, she felt...
Gustavo: Did he call you too?
Agata: No.
Gustavo: Then how do you know all this?
Agata: Just improvising on a theme.

Gustavo: 350,000 lira.
Ines: It was worth much more then.

Whenever Agata causes a light bulb, a computer, a toaster, etc. to go berserk.

When Agata is talking to Arturo thinking he's Nico and confessing her feelings for him.

Romeo's incredibly bad fashion moments - and his penchant for wearing stripes and brightly coloured suits!

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