"The Full Monty" producer Uberto Pasolini makes his helming debut in the sweet, overly earnest immigration comedy-with-a-soul "Machan."

“The Full Monty” producer Uberto Pasolini makes his helming debut in the sweet, overly earnest immigration comedy-with-a-soul “Machan.” Based on the true story of a group of Sri Lankans flying to Bavaria and pretending to be the national handball team, pic is a standard collective tale, populated with stereotypes while distancing itself from any hint of carpet-bagging. Co-scripted by Sri Lankan playwright Ruwanthie de Chickera, with helmer Prasanna Vithanage onboard as producer, “Machan’s’ credentials are sound, though grit rather than mere pluck would have added punch. Feel-good vibes should work at smaller fests and on Euro screens.

Serious bartender Manoj (Gihan de Chickera) and scampish fruit-seller Stanley (Dharmapriya Dias) have their visas to Germany rejected. Stumbling on a flier for a handball tournament in Germany, and desperate to better themselves abroad, they apply without knowing what the sport is about. A motley team is assembled, with the intention of disappearing into the night once they’ve landed in Europe, but an unexpected welcoming committee means the guys need to delay escape until after the games. Moments of charm exist, but the few surprises feel tacked on. Visuals favor theatrical over-lighting.

Machan

Italy - Germany - Sri Lanka

Production

A Mikado (in Italy)/Fox (in Germany) release of a Redwave Film, Studio Urania (Italy)/Babelsberg Film (Germany)/Shakthi Films (Sri Lanka) production. (International sales: Beta Cinema, Munich.) Produced by Prasanna Vithanage, Conchita Airoldi, Uberto Pasolini. Co-producer, Henning Molfenter. Directed by Uberto Pasolini. Screenplay, Ruwanthie de Chickera, Pasolini.

Crew

Camera (color), Stefano Falivene; editor, Masahiro Hirakubo; music, Stephen Warbeck, Lakshman Joseph de Saram; production designer, Errol Kelly; costume designers, Sandhiya Jayasuriya, Rob Navis. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Aug. 27, 2008. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- Contemporary World Cinema.) Sinhala, English dialogue. Running time: 110 MIN.

With

Dharmapriya Dias, Gihan de Chickera, Dharshan Dharmaraj, Namal Jayasinghe, Sujeewa Priyalal, Mahendra Perera, Dayadewa Edirisinghe, Jayani Senanayake, Sunil Pathirana.

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