×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto Film Review: ‘Those Happy Years’

Daniele Luchetti brings his usual mix of warmth, drama and boisterousness to this flashback to the roiling Italian 1970s of his youth.

With:

Kim Rossi Stuart, Micaela Ramazzotti, Martina Gedeck, Samuel Garofalo, Niccolo Calvagna, Benedetta Buccellato, Pia Engleberth. (Italian, English, French dialogue)

Daniele Luchetti’s “Those Happy Years” is another flashback to the roiling Italian 1970s of his youth, though this time the family conflicts are more vulnerable to the vagaries of art than of political ideology. This enjoyable seriocomedy may not travel as far as his slightly more substantial 2007 drama, “My Brother is an Only Child,” but it showcases the director/co-writer’s usual mix of warmth, drama and boisterousness to pleasing effect. Further fest exposure and select offshore theatrical/home format sales beckon.

Narrated by the helmer’s child stand-in, Dario, as a reminiscing adult (voiced by Luchetti himself), the film has lanky Kim Rossi Stuart as Guido, a Roman sculptor and art teacher trying to get his creative reputation off the ground. He struggles to support his two young sons, Dario (Samuel Garofalo) and Paolo (Niccolo Calvagna), and his wife, Serena (Micaela Ramazzotti). Serena was raised under comparatively wealthy, stable circumstances but doesn’t care about money, or even art (which she professes generally not to understand). Instead, she’s devoted her loyalty entirely to Guido and the kids, though she’s impatient with her husband’s tortured-artist preoccupations and frequently suspicious that he’s cheating on her with all the nude young female models forever hanging around his studio.

When Guido’s contribution to an important Milan group show is trashed by a leading critic, he withdraws further into himself, and needy Serena is at a loss as to how to regain his attention. Figuring that making herself unavailable for a while might do the trick, she accepts an offer from his gallery owner friend Helke (Martina  Gedeck) to take the kids on a sojourn to a feminist retreat on a beach in France. Despite initial skittishness — far from desiring “liberation” from her husband, Serena would like them to be joined at the hip — she and the boys end up thoroughly enjoying themselves. More surprisingly, Serena finds herself welcoming romantic overtures from Heike that had completely flown over her head until now.

Needless to say, the discovery of his wife’s serious emotional/sexual attachment to another woman isn’t taken well by Guido, never mind that he has, indeed, been fooling around with those naked college students all along. Deeply in love but unable to accept their separate evolution as individuals, husband and wife will illustrate the joys and pitfalls of the sexual revolution for their precocious, adaptable offspring. Luchetti’s penchant for broad strokes doesn’t necessarily evoke an era of complicated social change with great nuance, but his affection for his characters and their foibles lends “Those Happy Years” a generosity of spirit even when it risks superficiality and contrivance.

Performances are appealing, although the kids are overly wised-up in cutesy movie fashion. Pro production package could have used a more distinctive visual style, despite efforts at heightening period ambience not only though 35mm lensing but also use of retro 16mm and Super 8 formats.

Toronto Film Review: 'Those Happy Years'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 8, 2013. Running time: 106 MIN. Original title: "Anni felici"

Production:

(Italy) A Cattleya and Rai Cinema presentation. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Riccardo Tozzi, Giovanni Stabilini, Marco Chimez. Executive producer, Gina Gardini.

Crew:

Directed by Daniele Luchetti. Screenplay, Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli, Caterina Venturini, Luchetti. Camera (color, 35mm/16mm/Super 8), Claudio Collepiccolo; editors, Mirco Garrone, Francesco Garrone; music, Franco Piersanti; production designer, Giancarlo Basili; costume designer, Maria Rita Barbera; sound (Dolby Digital), Maurizio Argentieri; assistant director/casting, Gianni Costantino. 

With:

Kim Rossi Stuart, Micaela Ramazzotti, Martina Gedeck, Samuel Garofalo, Niccolo Calvagna, Benedetta Buccellato, Pia Engleberth. (Italian, English, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Atlantics

    Emerging Talent From Gallic Cinema

    Variety is teaming with Unifrance, an agency that promotes French cinema around the world, to focus attention on four emerging talents in the French movie industry as part of Unifrance’s “New Faces of French Cinema” program. Here Variety profiles the rising filmmakers: Justine Triet, Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec, Hafsia Herzi and Mati Diop. Mati Diop Born to [...]

  • John Hannah Reunites With ‘The Mummy’

    John Hannah Reunites With ‘The Mummy’ Actors for Horror Pic ‘Lair’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    John Hannah, Corey Johnson and Oded Fehr will star in “Lair,” billed as a socially conscious horror movie about an LGBT family embroiled in one man’s attempt to prove the existence of the supernatural. The trio all appeared in the successful franchise “The Mummy,” and their new picture goes into production later this year. Katarina [...]

  • Loving Vincent Animation Oscars

    Adult Audience Animation: Cannes Panel Talks Big-Screen Strategy

    CANNES–A panel of leading animation industry executives gathered during the Cannes Film Market on Sunday to shed light on their strategies for the theatrical release of adult-oriented animated features. It was a timely conversation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Five of the 28 animated projects in the Marché du Film are adult audience-focused, including [...]

  • Lea Drucker poses with the Best

    French Filmmaker Axelle Ropert Readies 'Petite Solange' With MK2 Films (EXCLUSIVE)

    French writer/director Axelle Ropert is set to direct “Petite Solange,” a film that will star Léa Drucker and Philippe Katerine, who won the best acting nods at this year’s Cesar Awards for their performances in “Custody” and “Sink or Swim,” respectively. MK2 films will handle international sales. Haut et Court has acquired rights for French [...]

  • Dutch FilmWorks Moves into International Sales

    Dutch Film Works Moves into International Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    A major new international sales outfit is coming to market. Dutch Film Works (DFW), one of the largest movie distributors in the Benelux region, is moving into film and TV sales. DFW general manager Angela Pruijssers will spearhead the sales effort alongside Charlotte Henskens, who will join from Amsterdam-based Fortissimo Films, where she is director [...]

  • Gullane Taps The Match Factory, Bitters

    Gullane Taps Match Factory, Bitters End for Karim Ainouz’s ‘Neon River’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gullane, the Brazilian producer of Marco Bellocchio’s Cannes competition player “The Traitor,” has linked with production partners for anticipated projects by two of Brazil’s highest-profile auteurs: Karim Ainouz and Fernando Coimbra. In further news, Luiz Bolognesi, writer-director of Annecy winner “Rio 2096,” is leading “Senna,” Gullane’s biggest movie project to date, a live-action biopic of [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Feature Documentary ‘Untouchable’ Bought by Hulu (EXCLUSIVE)

    Hulu has snagged the U.S. rights to “Untouchable,” the feature doc about disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein, in a seven-figure deal, Variety has learned. The film, directed by Ursula Macfarlane, had its premiere at Sundance. It offers the inside track on the rise of Weinstein and his subsequent fall, amid allegations in the U.S. and Europe [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content