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A Cecchi Gori Distribuzione release (in Italy) of a Silvia Verdone/Rita Cecchi Gori presentation of a CGG Tiger Cinematografica/Vittoria Cine production. Produced by Vittorio and Rita Cecchi Gori. Executive producer, Silvia Verdone.

A Cecchi Gori Distribuzione release (in Italy) of a Silvia Verdone/Rita Cecchi Gori presentation of a CGG Tiger Cinematografica/Vittoria Cine production. Produced by Vittorio and Rita Cecchi Gori. Executive producer, Silvia Verdone.

Directed by Christian De Sica. Screenplay, Giovanni Veronesi, De Sica. Camera (Cinecitta color), Ennio Guarnieri; editor, Paolo Benassi; music, Manuel De Sica; art direction, Tonino Zera; set decoration, Massimo Zompa; costume design, Nicoletta Ercole; sound (Dolby SR), Riccardo Palmieri; assistant director, Roberto Palmerini. Reviewed at Ariston Cinema, Rome, Oct. 14, 1996. Running time: 87 MIN.

Baron Jacopo Del Serchio Christian De Sica Baroness Chiara Del Serchio Anna Galiena Leonardo Paolo Conticini Bishop of Pisa Leo Gullotta Pietro Carlo Monni Black servant Bobby Rhodes

Following his 1995 hit comedy, “Men, Men, Men,” which halfheartedly sought to bring some sobriety and truth to its view of the modern gay male, Christian De Sica takes on bisexuality in an 18th-century [7mmenage a trois[22;27m in “3.” But this faux-philosophical endorsement of libertarian pleasures maintains all the oafish unsubtlety of his less-ambitious outings and looks destined for meager commercial status.

Set during the French Revolution in the Tuscan villa of Baron Jacopo Del Serchio (De Sica) and his wife, Chiara (Anna Galiena), the film centers on the adoring aristocrats’ efforts to stave off monotony by keeping their sexual instincts well-oiled, such as by watching the hired help fornicate. A more substantial plaything appears in the form of Leonardo (Paolo Conticini), a commoner who takes the fancy of both the Baron and Baroness.

The couple install him in their boudoir, but the young stud’s love for Chiara is unmatched by his affection and admiration for Jacopo, and the latter’s jealousy hastens Leonardo’s departure from the villa. Chiara soon discovers she is pregnant with the son and heir the Baron has always denied her.

The script, which De Sica co-wrote with screenwriter-turned-director Giovanni Veronesi, makes a flimsy show of depth with its observation that the real revolutions are not necessarily those played out on the battlefield. But the subtext is merely a pallid justification for a thin story of risque sexuality dressed up in period threads.

Dedicating the film to his neorealist maestro father, Vittorio De Sica, helmer clearly is aiming to leave behind the grass-roots comedies he began with and move into an area more worthy of his name. But the skills are lacking, and the tendency to go for easy laughs by peppering the proceedings with modern-day profanities testifies that the director’s true vocation probably lies in the down-market mainstream.

Galiena appears incongruously cast, given she is required to do no more than smile indulgently at her co-star. The film is very much a vanity project, entirely centered on De Sica, whose character is an improbable mix of noble sentiments: The Baron is nonviolent, anti-racist, anti-sexist and even anti-hunting, the latter conveyed in a clumsy scene in which he comes face to face with a wild boar that’s been pacified by a taxidermist.

Veteran lenser Ennio Guarnieri, who shot the last four films of De Sica’s father, fails to bring any visual distinction nor does he disguise the shortage of opulence in the single setting populated by a handful of extras. Composer Manuel De Sica’s lush orchestrations and Nicoletta Ercole’s ostentatious costumes both run to jarring overstatement.

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(ITALIAN)

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