Title: Latin Lover 

Director: Cristina Comencini

Starring: Virna Lisi, Maria Paredes, Angela Finocchiaro, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Candela Peña, Pihla Viitala, Nadeah Miranda, Francesco Scianna, Neri Marcorè, Claudio Gioè, Lluís Homar, Toni Bertorelli, Jordi Mollà.

Marcello Mastroianni, Ugo Toganzzi, Vittorio Gassman, Gian Maria Volonté – the Italian screen-womanisers of the golden age of Italian cinema – are all united in the character of Saverio Crispo, interpreted by the actor who has become known to the wide audience for playing in Giuseppe Tornatore’s ‘Baaria’: Francesco Scianna.

The story begins with Saverio Crispo who has been dead for ten years and all his women are gathered to celebrate the anniversary of his death through a public ceremony, organised in his hometown. Four daughters, he had from different women all over the world, and two of the wives reunite for the occasion. The first Italian daughter (Angela Finocchiaro) – whose mother is played by Virna Lisi – has a secret longterm romantic affair with Saverio’s editor (Neri Marcoré). The French daughter (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) arrives with the youngest of her three children, that she has had with a black man and has named after Saverio. The Spanish daughter (Candela Peña) is the only married one and she comes with her cheating husband (Jordi Mollà) and their two sons. Also the last daughter (Pihla Viitala) arrives, from Sweden. Throughout the preparations the youngest American daughter seems to be the only one missing for the merry occasion. But this harem of ladies seems to have never fully understood who Saverio Crispo truly was, unlike his stunt, Pedro del Rio (Lluís Homar), whose arrival at the press conference causes distraught amongst the widows.

Director, Cristina Comencini is very good when it comes to ironising female interactions, through comedic choral stories (Due Partite). Her last film, where she tried instead to ponder on the melancholia of couple relationships as well as the existential crisis of motherhood (Quando la notte), was ghastly.

But ‘Latin Lover’ takes her back on track extraordinarily, especially through the explosive interpretation of the brilliant international cast. Here we see the last performance of the Italian film legend Virna Lisi. The way she portrays the first widow is magnificent. The variety of shades she brings to her character, the dignity, the maliciousness, and the irony are remarkable. Just as terrific is wife #2, Pedro Almódovar’s darling actress, Maria Paredes. And the list goes on with the brilliant Italian comedic-dramatic actors, Angela Finocchiaro and Neri Marcoré, the Italian by birth and French adopted Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Spanish Candela Peña, Finnish Pihla Viitala; along with all the rest of the talented cast (Nadeah Miranda, Claudio Gioè, Lluís Homar, Toni Bertorelli, Jordi Mollà).

The film is an ode to that Italian cinema which has made the history of motion pictures so grand, through the directors, the screen legends, the great music scores (the one of ‘Latin Lover’ makes many hints to Nino Rota’s pieces).

The Medley of vintage footage that portrays Saverio’s most important interpretations tributes ‘L’armata Brancaleone,’ ‘Il Sorpasso’ (The Easy Life) and  ‘Ieri, oggi, domani’ (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow), along with the spaghetti western and Hollywood’s classics. Mario Monicelli, Dino Risi, Vittorio De Sica and many other directors who have marked the history of cinema, are brought back to life with love, humour and nostalgia, by the very daughter of one of the masters of the Italian-style comedy genre: Luigi Comencini.

Technical: A

Acting: A

Story: B+

Overall: A-

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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