The interwoven stories of five 40-year-old single men paint a grim but realistic picture of love and loneliness in today's Italy. "Don't Make Any Plans for Tonight" won't set any screens on fire, and its downbeat message, despite a bit of pick-me-up at the end, will probably keep even local auds at a safe distance.

The interwoven stories of five 40-year-old single men paint a grim but realistic picture of love and loneliness in today’s Italy. “Don’t Make Any Plans for Tonight” won’t set any screens on fire, and its downbeat message, despite a bit of pick-me-up at the end, will probably keep even local auds at a safe distance. However, writer-director Gianluca Maria Tavarelli (“Liberi,” “Un amore”) injects these loveless tales with a theatrical intensity that should play well on television.

This is a no-surprises film where sensitive scriptwriting keeps the familiar characters just this side of stereotypes, though a few arguably cross the line. With the exception of Veronica, a simple shopgirl depicted by Micaela Ramazzotti as a lovely person capable of deep feelings toward the married cad (Luca Zingaretti) she’s in love with, the film is told from a male POV.

Anger, rage, masochism, and fear of commitment afflict our heroes. The most sharply drawn, thanks to Alessandro Gassman’s growling, confident perf, is Giorgio, who covers up his sexual inadequacy with an aggressive attitude. Divorced father Pietro (Giorgio Tirabassi), comforted by his on-and-off g.f. Cinzia (Paola Cortellesi), discovers he has a tumor and gloomily foresees the worst. Nanni, a wobbly-kneed prof who can’t make up his mind, watches the love of his life Paola (Donatella Finocchiaro) marry another man, and Alessandro (Andrea Renzi) is so ridden with fears he doesn’t even contemplate a relationship.

Would that a single one of these characters held a trick up his sleeve, but the film unfolds as smoothly as Luigi Seviroli’s music track and Roberto Forza’s lensing, with nary a twist that can’t be spotted scenes ahead. The action is set in Rome, which is beautifully shot in several night scenes.

Don't Make Any Plans for Tonight

Italy

Production

A Taodue production. (International sales: Taodue, Rome.) Produced by Pietro Valsecchi. Directed, written by Gianluca Maria Tavarelli.

Crew

Camera (color), Roberto Forza; editor, Alessandro Heffler; music, Luigi Seviroli; production designer, Sonia Peng; costume designer, Loredana Buscemi; sound (Dolby Digital), Remo Ugolinelli. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 3, 2006. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Giorgio Tirabassi, Alessandro Gassman, Paola Cortellesi, Luca Zingaretti, Francesca Inaudi, Rocco Papaleo, Donatella Finocchiaro, Valeria Milillo, Micaela Ramazzotti, Andrea Renzi, Giuseppe Battiston, Valerio Binasco, Michela Cescon.
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