Scriptwriter Simona Izzo has hit a home run at the Italian box office with “Sentimental Maniacs,” her first directing project. Auds have applauded this buoyant, low-budget local comedy for its dynamic young cast and simple approach to the emotional and sexual problems of several disharmonious couples. But laughs are strongly tied to the non-stop dialogue, and this competently directed but rather ordinary comedy stands small chance of working as well offshore.
Action takes place in a run-down Italian country villa on the weekend when Luca and Mara’s two little girls make their first Communion. As relatives gather for the event, storm clouds brew.
The sexually and professionally frustrated Luca (Ricky Tognazzi, son of the late Ugo Tognazzi and spouse of co-star Giuppy Izzo) is ready to leave his family for a flighty young actress (Izzo).
Wife Mara (a tearfully tragic Barbara De Rossi) tries desperately to hold on to him.
Mara’s sisters Claudia (Clelia Rondinella) and Giusy (Veronica Logan) are bubbleheads whose woes are of their own doing. Claudia is having a tormented fling with a married man; Giusy is destroying her young love with imaginary illnesses.
The female roles (including De Rossi’s) are played with theatrical exaggeration and a cabaret-style emphasis on Mediterranean curves popping out of cut-out sweaters (when worn).
Though main players Tognazzi and De Rossi have a lot of screen presence, perfs are one-note and get a little tiresome.
Most satisfactory members of the cast are an offbeat couple played by Monica Scattini (as Luca’s sex-starved sister) and Alessandro Benvenuti (his bachelor friend.)
Theirs is the only happy sexual coupling in the film, perhaps suggesting how bleak most modern relationships are.
Camera work is unobtrusive, and the musical commentary by Antonio Di Pofi irritatingly pat. Angelo Nicolini’s cutting leaves ne’er an empty moment.