Sunday, December 4, 2016

ME, MYSELF & HER: Lesbian rom-com-dramedy fluff from Italy's Maria Sole Tognazzi

TrustMovies moves up and down re the work of Italian filmmaker Maria Sole Tognazzi (he's quite high on A Five-Star Life, somewhat lower on The Man Who Loves, and maybe in the middle regarding her newest movie, ME, MYSELF & HER (a much simpler and more intelligently worded Io e lei, in the original Italian). Though there have been a number of Italian movies with full-out gay themes, this is said to be the first relatively mainstream Italian movie to tackle a lesbian relationship.

Ms Tognazzi, shown at right, casts her movies expertly, with some of Italy's finest actors in leading roles. Here she uses that always wonderful, multi-Donatello-winning Margherita Buy in one role and a quite beautiful and talented actress (from The Great Beauty), Sabrina Ferilli, in the other. The two play off each other with skill, precision and great believability, as they take us into the shoals of a five-year-old relationship that appears to be badly fraying.

As is her wont, Ms Tognazzi deals with the upscale bourgeoisie -- this time, an architect named Federica (Ms Buy, above) and her lover, an ex-actress and now-restaurateur, Marina (Ms Ferilli, below), who appear to have a relatively placid relationship -- except that Federica wants her sexual preference to remain private, while Marina could give a good god-damn about all that. When the opportunity arises for Marina to act again in an upcoming movie, the pair's relationship is put to the test.

The two actresses, as well as the rest of the supporting cast, are all first-rate, but the scenario itself seems second-hand and lacking in much depth. Everything hinges upon the relationship here, and what we see of it, despite the good work of the actresses involved, seems awfully, well, typical. There's an indiscretion, followed by anger, separation, sorrow and resolution. And all of it is just a little too easy.

All this surprises me a bit because the film was co-written by the writer and director, Ivan Cotroneo, of one my my favorite Italian films of the past decade, Kryptonite! (click and scroll down to view particulars). Still, we have the beauty and talent of Buy and Ferilli, and some gorgeous locations in which to bask (though nothing like those in A Five-Star Life), and a nice serving of Italian rom-com fluff. So the time is spent painlessly and pleasantly.

Just don't expect much depth or surprise -- which is too bad. If indeed this is the first lesbian rom-com-drama from Italy, the gals deserve a little more interesting scenario than we get here. (There is, however, a terrific looking cat, above, to help bide our time.) Even Federica's relationships with her son, ex-husband and new/old man-in-her-life (Fausto Maria Sciarappa, below) are shown so lightly that they seem to skip along a surface of what must have more interesting stuff roiling beneath it.

Ditto the relationship between Marina and her business associate, which looks as if it could have been given a scene or two all to itself. But if you're looking for something pretty and classy and nicely acted by some of Italy's finest, Me, Myself & Her should adequately fill the bill.

From Wolfe Video, In Italian with English subtitles, and running 102 minutes, the movie goes straight to VOD and DVD here in the USA this Tuesday, December 6 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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