An unconvincing relationship drama that marks the return of Peter Del Monte to the director's chair after seven years.

An astrophysicist proves brains shut down when passion comes calling in “In Your Hands,” an unconvincing relationship drama that marks the return of Peter Del Monte (“Traveling Companion”) to the director’s chair after seven years. Picking up his traditional theme of emotionally troubled couples incapable of sustainable happiness, he pairs a neurotic foreigner with a weak but kind — and handsome — Jewish scientist in a piecemeal tale that cries out for more intelligence all around. Skedded for early 2008 release, pic is unlikely to generate more than middling sales; fest outings will be limited to Italo-centric celebrations.

Despite a g.f. at home whose name is tattooed on his arm, student Teo (Marco Foschi) has his libido set afire after high-strung Croatian Mavi (Kasia Smutniak) knocks him down with her car and sends him to hospital. “Forget it, I’m a mess,” she warns. But that doesn’t stop him from his pursuit, and finally she succumbs to his charms.

Fast-forward and the happily married couple are playing with their little baby. Teo’s Jewish parents (Luisa De Santis, Severino Saltarelli) aren’t thrilled but over-soft Dad is perennially supportive.

With money tight, Teo drops his studies to become an astral encyclopedia salesman. But his constant absences from home prey on the unstable Mavi’s mind and she becomes a pathologically jealous wife and neglectful mother.

From the get-go, the script doesn’t make the marriage believable: a romp in the hay, sure, but an exchange of rings? Never. Del Monte also tries hard to convince auds that Mavi is more than simply a psycho, but sympathy for her is impossible to sustain, and plot ellipses don’t help.

A creepy older man (Luciano Bartoli) at the start seems to be Mavi’s b.f., then turns out to be her father, but the tension created by this deliberate confusion is completely dropped. An even more unbelievable ending tries to wrap things up.

Cast tries hard to make it all believable. However, the facile underpinning to the characters is exemplified by the costumer’s decision to keep Teo in ill-fitting plaid shirts to stress his intellectual bent. Lensing plays with deliberate graininess and is generally strong, though unremarkable.

In Your Hands

Italy

Production

A Teodora Film release of an 11 Marzo Film, Blue Film, Coca Color production. (International sales: Teodora, Rome.) Produced by Roberto Levi, Matteo Levi, Bruno Tribbioli, Alessandro Bonifazi. Directed by Peter Del Monte. Screenplay, Michele Pellegrini, Del Monte.

Crew

Camera (color), Marco Carosi; editor, Erika Manoni; music, Paolo Silvestri; production designer, Nicola Pontrandolfo; costume designer, Valentina Stefani; sound (Dolby Digital), Marco Fiumara; assistant director, Tommaso Valente; casting, Jorgelina Depetris. Reviewed at Turin Film Festival (Italian Panorama), Nov. 27, 2007. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Kasia Smutniak, Marco Foschi, Luisa De Santis, Severino Saltarelli, Luciano Bartoli, Simona Caramelli, Alberto Cracco, Gaetano Carotenuto, Riccardo Francia, Eleonora Solofra, Noemi Abbrescia, Alba Rohrwacher, Pier Francesco Poggi, Marina Pennafina, Nicolo Benvenuti, Andrea Bruschi.
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