Pic aims to recuperate Italian comedy genre's long-lost luster

A rare case of a Napoleon biopic with a comic twist, and certainly the first set during the Gallic emperor’s exile on the Tuscan island of Elba, “N (Io e Napoleone)” is just the kind of quality pic geared toward a wide audience the RomeFilmFest is known to be looking for.

Adapted from Italo writer Ernesto Ferrero’s prizewinning historical novel, “N” was originally set up as a potential Hollywood project by producer Gianni Nunnari; he bought the rights and commissioned the screenplay, penned by veteran Italian scribe Furio Scarpelli, whose credits range from “Big Deal on Madonna Street” to “Il postino.”

Cattleya’s Riccardo Tozzi subsequently acquired the project and shepherded the €8 million ($10 million) Italo-French-Spanish co-production starring Daniel Auteuil as the emperor, who in 1814 was treated on the isle the way a rock star would be today.

Emerging Italo thesp Elio Germano plays his reluctant young librarian, and Monica Bellucci plays a dissolute baroness.

Ambitious pic, which aims to recuperate the Italian comedy genre’s long-lost luster, is helmed by Paolo Virzi, whose “Hard Boiled Egg” traveled Stateside.

Virzi is considered one of the few Italo helmers capable of making comedies not cast in the country’s vulgar Christmas-fare mold. Entirely shot on location, it is Virzi’s first costumer and his movie most likely to travel internationally.

Even before launching in the Eternal City, “N” marks a rare case of a day-and-date Italo/French release via Medusa in Italy and Magrytte in Gaul, in October following the fest.

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