Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro adds a touch of novelty to Giovanni Veronesi's latest installment in the romantic-comedy franchise.

“Formulaic” is a neutral adjective for “Manual of Love 3,” yet another Italo laffer in which hot women with interchangeable cleavage vamp befuddled men in various stages of retarded emotional development. This one, however, has Robert De Niro, which adds a touch of novelty to Giovanni Veronesi’s latest installment in the romantic-comedy franchise. Given opening-weekend postings of $4 million, it’s obvious the formula works well in Berlusconi’s Italy, which officially ranks below Malawi and Paraguay in terms of gender equality. But away from the peninsula, this “Manual” has long been superseded.

Three stories illustrate the three ages of man, connected by a taxi-driving Cupid (Emanuele Propizio). Youth is represented by Roberto (the not-quite-dewy Riccardo Scamarcio) convinced he wants to marry Sara (Valeria Solarino) until he’s bewitched by Micol (Laura Chiatti). Next comes married newscaster Fabio (Carlo Verdone), seduced by mad stalker Eliana (Donatella Finocchiaro). Finally there’s Adrian (De Niro, at ease in Italian), rediscovering his youth thanks to sympathetic stripper in distress Viola (Monica Bellucci). Lovemaking scenes are poorly shot, and lighting is generically artificial, as is Luca Merlini’s improbably rich production design.

Manual of Love 3

Italy

Production

A Filmauro release of a Filmauro production in association with Babe Films. Produced by Aurelio De Laurentiis, Luigi De Laurentiis. Executive producer, Maurizio Amati. Directed by Giovanni Veronesi. Screenplay, Veronesi, Ugo Chiti, Andrea Agnello.

Crew

Camera (color), Tani Canevari; editor, Patrizio Marone; music, Paolo Buonvino; production designer, Luca Merlini; costume designer, Gemma Mascagni. Reviewed at Cinema Reale, Rome, Feb. 28, 2011. Running time: 125 MIN.

With

Carlo Verdone, Robert De Niro, Monica Bellucci, Riccardo Scamarcio, Laura Chiatti, Michele Placido, Donatella Finocchiaro, Valeria Solarino, Emanuele Propizio, Daniele Pecci, Vincenzo Alfieri, Ralph Palka. (Italian, English, French dialogue)

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