Final installment of Gabriele Salvatores’ road pic trilogy, Med iterraneo follows Marrakech Express and Turne in its exploration of the dreams and disappointments and eventual escape of the generation now pushing 40. The rabble rousing of 1968 becomes WWII, the heady idealism fo the ’70s becomes the Greek idyll, and the fizzled hopes of the ’80s become the return to mamma Italia, at least for the central characters.
Eight Italian soldiers are sent to garrison a remote, strategically unimportant Greek island during World War II. As they adapt to island life, the delicate comic moments stay just on the right side of schlocky: one soldier mourns his beloved donkey, a burly boy falls quietly in love with the sargeant, two brothers and a shepherdess have a sexually spiritual menage a trois, and the group underdog and the local prositute undergo a little courtship.
The film’s conclusion slips unnecessarily into trite barbershop philosophizing as two of the soldiers, 40 years on, escape from their grand delusion by pulling up a chair to chop eggplants back at the island taverna.
The pic is rich in affectionate new slants on old Italo emblems like soccer, sex and snappy dressing. The ensemble work of the performers and crew give this pic much of its buoyancy. Setting is the tucked-away island of Kastellorizo in the Dodecanese.
1991: Best Foreign Language Film