After dealing with young people’s reactions to parents who abuse drugs in “The Pear Tree,” director Francesca Archibugi is the first to tackle the aftermath of Italy’s devastating earthquakes, specifically one that knocked down a small medieval town in Umbria. “Tomorrow” divides its time between kids (with whom Archibugi excels) and more standard issue adult drama, as the townsfolk adapt to being homeless and try to resume a semblance of normal life. Pic opened to disappointing returns in Italy, but its dramatic subject matter and family orientation give it good potential for small screen sales offshore.
Things start shaking and falling in pic’s attention-grabbing opener, when a major quake sends residents of the small town dashing out of their homes as ancient masonry crumbles around them. The deputy mayor (Marco Baliani) takes charge as the mayor is rushed to the hospital. His dedication to dealing with the emergency, assigning people to tents and trailers and finally rebuilding the town estranges him from his wife (Ornella Muti).
In addition to their two sons, couple shares a small family camper with good-looking, single Valerio Mastrandrea and his sick mom (Ilaria Occhini). Young Agostino (David Bracci) darkly suspects his mother of finding consolation with the roomer.
Meanwhile, he has girl problems of his own deciding between the inseparable girlfriends Tina (mophead Michela Moretti) and Vale (impulsive Marghertia Porena). Archibugi’s playful direction of these closely observed kids contrasts with her sensitive but poker-faced view of the adult world, where nary a laugh or joke lightens the discomfort of life.
Adding aesthetic interest is a priceless Fra Angelico fresco endangered in the church, which English art expert Andrew (James Purefoy) is sent to restore. The continual afterquakes scare off his wife (Anna Wilson-Jones) but not him, especially with a spunky young school teacher (Patrizia Piccinini) around as a love interest.
Curiously, pic refrains from offering a political critique of Italy’s everlasting emergencies. Director Paolo Taviani cameos as a pol who comes to inspect the damage to the Fra Angelico, defusing the townsfolk’s wrath with his concern. Pic seems basically on the side of the authorities, a valid stance perhaps, but one that leads to a lame ending that offers no strong emotional p.o.v. on why the town is eventually abandoned by most of its inhabitants.
Though using a widescreen format, cinematographer Luca Bigazzi creates an intimate atmosphere in cramped indoor spaces, whereas the outdoor scenes show less control. Costumes are bright, and music by Lena Battista provides encouraging accompaniment to all the rest.