Italy’s stark divide between her depressed south and booming north is told entirely via period archival TV footage in Gabriele Salvatores’ overly cutesy pseudo-docu, “1960.” Conceived as the fictionalized story of a man narrating his family’s search for an older brother who emigrated to Milan, the pic touches on the nation’s polarized economy, but gets smothered under a feel-good, painfully wide-eyed account of the wonders of Italian life, circa 1960. The results are the found-footage equivalent of recent nostalgia-drenched Italo features, sure to please undemanding locals of a certain age on ancillary.
The narrator recalls his youth, when in the summer of 1959 his brother Rosario leaves their poor but happy village for employment up north. Fearing Rosario’s forgotten his fiancee, the family decamps to find him. First stop is Naples, where the narrator explains that impoverished child laborers are fortunate because they can watch TV. Then Rome, where the narrator — and Salvatores — forget that the title of “La Dolce Vita” is ironic. The Olympics, beachside Lotharios, and postwar industry help minimize the Cold War, while a hodgepodge of period songs and repetitive minor chords keep the mood upbeat.