Review: ‘Love Story with Cramps’

"Love Story With Cramps" concocts light but agreeable romantic comedy out of a woman's furious quest to win back the man who dumped her. While it could use some added polish in the script, acting and directing departments, this third feature from Pino Quartullo coasts by on its breezy tone, exuberant playing and sun-drenched Tunisian settings, making it a relatively safe commercial bet for domestic release and a viable item for Eurotube programmers.

“Love Story With Cramps” concocts light but agreeable romantic comedy out of a woman’s furious quest to win back the man who dumped her. While it could use some added polish in the script, acting and directing departments, this third feature from Pino Quartullo coasts by on its breezy tone, exuberant playing and sun-drenched Tunisian settings, making it a relatively safe commercial bet for domestic release and a viable item for Eurotube programmers.

The spurned woman is Marcella (Chiara Caselli), who follows her errant lover, Roberto (Sergio Rubini), on vacation to Tunisia. Also along for the trip are his new flame, Alessia (Debora Caprioglio), a vapid, busty blonde with aspirations to be a singer, and Francesco (Quartullo), a bumbling, inexperienced paid escort hired by Marcella to make Roberto jealous.

With Alessia and Francesco both clueless about their companions’ history, Marcella plots to win Roberto back, and he attempts to take flight. After fretting that his employer’s failure to make sexual demands on him will curtail his career, Francesco cottons on to the truth and is roped in as an accomplice. The not-so-rosy resolution is delayed repeatedly by constant shifts in the quartet’s affectionate allegiances and by Roberto and Alessia’s arrest after being mistaken for terrorists.

While the comedy lacks a consistent rhythm, and the good-looking cast’s timing is not exactly precision-tooled, they play out the featherweight scenario with enough brio to keep things moving. Caselli comes across as a determined, borderline-psychotic banshee, with Rubini and Quartullo as the helpless victims caught in her wake.

Best of the group is Caprioglio, who earned notoriety by exhibiting her ample curves for Tinto Brass in “Paprika,” and then turned serious actress in Francesca Archibugi’s “With Closed Eyes.” Her congenial comic turn gets an extra boost from two surprising musical interludes: an Arabic-flavored version of “Sugar Sugar” and a spectacularly mediocre song for which Alessia films a musicvideo on the sand dunes. Also amusing is legit star Rossella Falk as the world-weary iron lady who runs Francesco’s stud service.

The film’s look is crisp and colorful, with some obviously post-synched dialogue its only technical shortcoming.

Love Story with Cramps

(ITALIAN)

Production

A Cecchi Gori Group Distribuzione release (in Italy) of a Mario and Vittorio Cecchi Gori presentation of a CGG Tiger Cinematografica production. Produced by Vittorio and Rita Cecchi Gori. Directed by Pino Quartullo. Screenplay, Graziano Diana, Claudio Masenza, Quartullo.

Crew

Camera (Cinecitta color), Maurizio Calvesi; editor, Cecilia Zanuso; music, Tony Esposito; art direction, Mariangela Capuano, Enrico Fiorentini; costume design, Gianni Gissi; sound (Dolby), Remo Ugolinelli; assistant director , Giacomo Lesina. Reviewed at Cecchi Gori Group screening room, Rome, Jan. 11, 1996. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Roberto ... Sergio Rubini Marcella ... Chiara Caselli Alessia ... Debora Caprioglio Francesco ... Pino Quartullo Rossella ... Rossella Falk
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