Magazine article Screen International

A Castle in Italy

Magazine article Screen International

A Castle in Italy

Article excerpt

Dir: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. France. 2013. 104mins

The frothy comedy-drama A Castle In Italy (Un Château En Italie) introduces us to a main character whose flustered pursuit of happiness is meant to be adorably screwball but more often than not just proves exasperating. Director-star Valeria Bruni Tedeschi has crafted a novelistic portrait of a family over the course of an eventful year, but its central figure, a former actress played by Bruni Tedeschi herself, is indicative of the film's problems as a whole: She's likeable in small doses, but she's not quite as amusing as she thinks she is.

Because it moves back and forth between moments of slapstick, melodrama and gentle introspection, A Castle In Italy has more in common with the page-turning restlessness of a summer beach read.

A Castle In Italy is set for an October release in France. Catering to adult audiences at the art houses, the movie radiates a sunny, pleasant atmosphere that could help make it a date-night selection for upscale couples.

The titular castle belongs to the French family of Louise (Bruni Tedeschi), which also includes her elderly mother (Marisa Borini) and her philandering brother Ludovic (Filippo Timi), who shares an uncomfortably close bond with his sister. With the family's wealth fading, there are discussions about unloading the beautiful castle or at least renting it for tours now that Louise's father has died.

Amidst this tumult, Louise attracts the fancy of Nathan (Louis Garrel), a much younger man and aspiring actor who has long adored her from watching her on the screen, although she retired from the business some time ago. At first wary of getting involved, she decides to plunge headlong into a relationship, figuring that a risky love affair is better than remaining lonely.

Bruni Tedeschi's third film as a director has larger aspirations than simply being a fluffy romantic-comedy. Clearly inspired by The Cherry Orchard, she also wants to craft a story about a family in flux, with both Louise and Ludovic facing major crises to go along with the questions of what to do about their family finances.

But because it moves back and forth between moments of slapstick, melodrama and gentle introspection, A Castle In Italy has more in common with the page-turning restlessness of a summer beach read, with Bruni Tedeschi piling on the incidents that keep the family members coping with one situation after another. Still, Louise's travails are the focus, specifically her indecision about having a baby before she's too old, even if Nathan isn't ready to be a dad. …

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