Part period melodrama, part murder mystery, part class critique, helmer Tonino Cervi’s complicated costumer “Household Accounts” doesn’t accomplish all it aims for. Marbled with promise, but also mired in dramatic uncertainty, pic sports good-looking location work in Lucca and turn-of-the-20th-century detail that could appeal to some international auds. However, unsatisfying handling will leave them hungry for something more substantial.
After working in the decadent household of a corpulent countess (Laura Betti), self-assured chef Antonia (Emanuela Muni) enters the employ of aristocrat Augusto Pavineto (Gabriele Lavia). Augusto is a novelist and, unknown to all, Antonia is also writing a novel, hidden inside a household accounts notebook. The two marry, and her sacrifices to his egotism form the crux of the script in the tug-of-war between the culinary and literary arts that follows. But, it all feels scattered. Nonetheless, Muni glows in her film debut, fleshing out her character with knowing intensity. For the record, both Cervi and scripter Rodolfo Sonego died prior to pic’s early March release, though helmer lived to see a finished print.