After a promising start with his small but accomplished 1990 debut, “The Station,” actor-director Sergio Rubini invariably has seemed more confident in front of the camera — most recently in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” — than behind it. His fifth feature, “All the Love There Is,” is no exception. Similar in tone but lacking the fully-developed characters of other recent Italian youth-focused pics “Radio Freccia” and “But Forever in My Mind,” this bittersweet drama looks destined for a modest profile both locally and abroad.
Set in a small southern town of Rubini’s native Puglia region in the mid-’70s, the autobiographical tale is woven around pint-sized, 16-year-old Carlo (Damiano Russo) and his slightly older friends and the changes wrought on their lives by the arrival of three worldly Milanese sisters whose father is transferred in to run a factory.
Generally adopting a light touch, the ensemble drama approaches questions of first love and sex, family relationships, class differences and social inequalities, without going very deep on any count. While it’s mildly engaging, the familiar material feels unstructured, and, despite the Carlo/Rubini character constituting the tale’s nominal center, it lacks a solid focus. None of the characters is very vividly drawn aside from Maura (Teresa Saponangelo), a plucky local girl who responds with dignity and chutzpah when her lover takes up with one of the Northern beauties.
Among the younger players, Saponangelo is the sole experienced thesp, and while the remaining non-pro actors — especially Russo — are all serviceably affable, none makes a significant impression.
Rubini appears as Carlo’s father, a post office clerk given to amateur dramatics, while the director’s frequent onscreen and former offscreen partner Margherita Buy plays his wife. Gerard Depardieu (who worked with Rubini in Giuseppe Tornatore’s “A Pure Formality” and in French TV productions “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Balzac”) has a thankless, poorly dubbed minor role as a coarse hard-line Communist, a character that amounts to nothing.
Crisply shot pic features a lively soundtrack heavily peppered with both Italian and international ’70s hits.