One of Italy’s first bankable Tuscan comics, Francesco Nuti shows some evolution in his ninth feature, “I Love Andrea,” putting himself relatively in the background and letting this light, well-paced romantic comedy live its own life. Perfectly paired off against sultry thesp Francesca Neri as his girlfriend’s lesbian lover, producer-director-star Nuti handles the exotic love triangle with amusing aplomb and surprising sensitivity. Cast and titillating theme promise good domestic business, which could tip over into related offshore marts. Indie production history is highly unusual, the pic having been financed directly by a group of Italo exhibs committed to screening it.
Hiding his boyish good looks (along with much of his legendary screen machismo) behind a beard, Nuti plays a divorced 40-year-old, Dado. He’s sentimentally unattached when he meets wild girl Francesca (Agathe de la Fontaine), who first rams his car, then seduces him, and finally leaves him with an AIDS threat scrawled on the bathroom mirror.
Agonizing days later, Dado meets beautiful engineer Andrea (Neri), who warns him to keep his distance from her lover. First half of pic is comedically powered by Dado and Andrea’s fierce struggle for Francesca, played by young French thesp de la Fontaine as a hard-living bisex object. When she takes a train out of the story, Dado and Andrea’s attention turns to each other.
Never much of a psychological or cinematic realist, Nuti is at home embodying the male fantasy of an average guy who pursues two gorgeous women, with more eager females waiting in the wings. Given the macho, misogynist and anti-gay perspective of several earlier Nuti pics (“Caruso Pascoski,” “Women in Skirts”), “Andrea” gains greatly in appeal from the more human angle it takes on man’s eternal pursuit of sex and love.
Female homosexuality, though idealized, is viewed without snideness or superiority, and Nuti reveals a mild but pleasantly “feminine” side to his character. Scripters keep auds holding their breaths over whether the delightful Andrea will succumb to Dado’s bumbling charms and “convert” to a hetero lifestyle, complete with babies and dogs.
Though set in Milan, where Virginia Vianello’s modernist decor shines, pic’s most attractive scenes are at a Tuscan farmhouse during the August night of the shooting stars, and in equally scenic country weddings and baptisms. Nuti’s customary penchant for dollies, cranes and overhead shots feels artistically justified here, in lighthearted sequences set to “Over the Rainbow” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” Indeed, pic seems a short step away from Hollywood comedies of the ’30s in such scenes as Dado and Andrea’s unexpected encounter at the train station, which ends in a furious fist fight.
Aiding Nuti’s freewheeling, self-confident direction is editor Ugo De Rossi’s fine sense of timing, which keeps the story rolling. Maurizio Calvesi’s camerawork gives the production a highly professional look.