Occupying a unique place in Italian comedy, popular actor-director Carlo Verdone continues to hold his ground with middle-class, middle-aged Italian audiences. In “Love Is Eternal — As Long As It Lasts,” an established married couple splits up and recombines in late-blooming relationships. This pleasant, carefully crafted film is a better than average example of how the once-maverick comic has evolved into a humorous chronicler of Italo baby-boomers. An attractive cast should help the over-long comedy at the local wickets, where it will make its main stand after opening Feb. 20.
In a perfectly timed opener, Gilberto (Verdone) tries his hand at a “speed dating” club, where each participant has three minutes to make an impression on a member of the opposite sex before changing partners. Next scene, however, finds him spending a normally alienated evening at home with wife Tiziana (Laura Morante) and teenage daughter Marta (Lucia Ceracchi). When the carabinieri come calling over the disappearance of a girl at the club, Tiziana finds out everything and kicks him out of the house.
Luckily for Gilberto, fellow optometrist Andrea (Rodolfo Corsato) and his new g.f., Carlotta (Stefania Rocca), offer him their guest room. At first he maneuvers to get his wife back, but when she keeps the door closed, he reluctantly starts dating. A bed-happy young salesgirl (Elisabetta Rocchetti) and a post-sex gynecologist (Orsetta de Rossi) his own age don’t quite fit the bill. The only person who really understands and appreciates him is Carlotta, but she’s taken.
Tiziana’s anxious attempts to remate are recounted with considerably less sympathy, leading her to a near breakdown.
As a director, Verdone has a sure touch not only with his actors but with creating a comfy atmosphere in which the situation is more important than a string of gags. Individual scenes are brightly paced; but the arc of the film is poorly constructed, with repetition setting in long before the closing credits. The somewhat dubious suffering of Marta, observing her parents’ separation from the cynical viewpoint of her age, is a subplot that could have dispensed with.
Much like his neurotic character in “It Can’t Be All Our Fault” but sans the psychoanalytic jokes, Verdone hits the mark as a balding mensch with a good heart. Morante makes an awfully glamorous wife for an average guy, but is notably at ease in the role. The alluring young Rocca, warm and personable as Gilberto’s confidante, is refreshing as an emotionally level-headed female.
Tech credits are smooth.