Review: ‘The Italian’

A decently pitched but poorly handled dramedy about an Arab man who pretends he's called Dino Fabrizzi.

Looks are not the only deceiving thing about “The Italian,” a decently pitched but poorly handled dramedy about an Arab man who, in order to get ahead in France, pretends he’s called Dino Fabrizzi and his favorite dessert is … tiramisu. That’s pretty much the level of wit in this throwaway effort from helmer Olivier Baroux (“Safari”), which could have been a hilariously pointed critique of Gallic society but instead traffics in cultural cliches and easy sentiments, wrapped in a TV-style production. “Welcome to the Sticks” star Kad Merad may boost early numbers, but prospects outside Gaul are not bellissimo.

Dino (Merad), aka Mourad, works at a Maserati dealership in Nice, where everyone thinks he’s a genuine ragazzo. But when his hospitalized dad (Sid Ahmed Agoumi) begs that he observe Ramadan, his double life becomes a series of predictable quid pro quos, with jokes that includes such gems as Dino making funny faces while reading “Islam for Dummies.” Though the assimilation of France’s North African population continues to be a pressing issue, Baroux handles it with all the tact of a country butcher. Italo pop soundtrack provides cheap thrills.

The Italian

France

Production

A Pathe Distribution release of an Eskwad, Pathe, M6 Films production, in association with Banque Populaire Images 10, with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema, M6, W9, CNC. (International sales: Pathe Intl., Paris.) Produced by Richard Grandpierre. Executive producer, Frederic Doniguian. Co-producer, Romain Le Grand. Directed by Olivier Baroux. Screenplay, Baroux, Nicolas Boukhrief, Eric Besnard, Jean-Paul Bathany, Stephane Ben Lahcene.

Crew

Camera (color), Arnaud Stefani; editor, Richard Marizy; music, Martin Rappenau; production designer, Perine Barre; costume designer, Sandra Gutierrez. Reviewed at Cine Presqu'Ile 4, Guerande, France, July 16, 2010. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Kad Merad, Valerie Benguigui, Roland Giraud, Philippe Lefebvre, Guillaume Gallienne, Sid Ahmed Agoumi, Farida Ouchani, Saphia Azzeddine.

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