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Love at First Sight

Executive producer, Alessandro Calosci.

Executive producer, Alessandro Calosci.

Directed, written by Vincenzo Salemme. Camera (Cinecitta color), Mauro Marchetti; editor, Patrizio Marrone; music, Pino Daniele; art director, Lorenzo Baraldi; costume designer, Gianna Gissi. Reviewed at International Recording screening room, Rome, Oct. 21, 1999. Original title: Amore a prima vista. Running time: 87 MIN.

With: Vincenzo Salemme, Mandala Tayde, Carlo Buccirosso, Maurizio Casagrande, Nando Paone, Biagio Izzo, Tosca D’Aquino, Francesca Antonelli.

Promising comedy material is squandered in Neapolitan playwright and actor-turned-director Vincenzo Salemme’s second screen effort, “Love at First Sight.” While the tale of unexpected love between a bereaved carabiniere and a womanizing gangster — both ostensibly heterosexual — is rich in comic possibilities, this pedestrian vehicle instead offers overstated caricatures and tiresomely obvious gags. Salemme’s debut, “My Best Friend’s Wife,” became a modest Christmas sleeper, and his follow-up could do likewise. But outside Italy , commercial potential lies mainly in the remake department.

The unlikely passion blossoms when mob family scion Bruno (Salemme) encounters a widowed cop (Carlo Buccirosso), whose late wife’s eyes Bruno has inherited through surgical transplant. Due to organ-donor anonymity, their mutual attraction remains unexplained, creating confusion on both sides, in Bruno’s mortified clan and with his intended bride (Mandala Tayde). Salemme regroups the key cast from his previous feature, but the freshness, energy and snappy timing the actors brought to that ensemble comedy are absent here. The general overplaying is as unsubtle as the stereotypically loud mobster outfits and garish decor. Former model Tayde should hang on to her catwalk contacts.

Love at First Sight

(COMEDY -- ITALIAN)

Production: A Cecchi Gori Distribuzione release (in Italy) of a Mario and Vittorio Cecchi Gori presentation of a Cecchi Gori Entertainment Europa production. Produced by Vittorio Cecchi Gori.

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