Moderately involving character study.

Marco Luca Cattaneo’s “Liquid Love” trains an eye on a 40-year-old Bologna sanitation worker starved for the youth, sex and fun that have passed him by. Moderately involving character study won a generous Golden Zenith, Montreal’s top first-feature prize, over several more compelling entries. Commercial prospects are slim, but further fest play should stir interest in the writer-helmer’s next effort.

Heavyset Mario (Stefano Fregni) is affable enough, but his shyness and insistence on caring for a senile mother — whom his better-heeled sister would gladly send to a nursing facility — limit his pleasures to the Internet. One night on his street-cleaning rounds, he finds items discarded by a woman who just broke up with her boyfriend, including variably intimate homemovies. He chances upon the woman, Agatha (Sara Sartini), in the flesh behind a cafe counter, insinuating himself in her life by teaching her little girl to swim. But the underdeveloped script doesn’t really communicate why Mario finally shrinks from his big chance, and hints at darker undercurrents lead nowhere. Perfs and packaging are decent, though the Montreal venue’s bad HD projection made visuals hard to judge.

Liquid Love

Italy

Production

An Associazione Culturale Evoe production in association with Nicola Fontanili. (International sales: Dark Room Entertainment, S. Elpino a Mare, Italy.) Produced by Marco Luca Cattaneo. Executive producer, Pier Paulo Pagarelli. Directed by Marco Luca Cattaneo. Screenplay, Cattaneo, Marcomario Guagagni, David Turrini. Camera (color, HD), Antonio Veracini; editor, Maria Cristina Sansone; music, Gianpiero Antolini; production designer, Eva Bruno; costume designer, Wanda Rolla. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Aug. 30, 2010. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Stefano Fregni, Sara Sartini, Simonetta Solder, Martina Capaninni, Pina Randi.
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