Sunday, February 25, 2018

Toni Servillo in Francesco Amato's screwball comedy from Italy, LET YOURSELF GO

After viewing that great Italian actor Toni Servillo in everything from the fine films of Paolo Sorrentino to the delightful and/or ruminative political/economic satires of Roberto Andò to the pitch-black family comedy It Was the Son and so many more wonderful movies, it may come as a particularly bright surprise to see him in what can best be described as an Italian screwball comedy.

In Francesco Amato's new film, LET YOURSELF GO (Lasciati andari), Signore Servillo plays an up-tight Jewish psychiatrist who is saddled with at least as many problems as the fairly woeful clients whom he (sort of) treats. Of course, our shrink is able to hide his problems better.

The film's co-writer (with Francesco Bruni and Davide Lantieri) and director, Signore Amato (pictured at right), has created something we don't see all that much of these days, particularly featuring an actor in the lead role as fine and full-fledged-serious as Servillo.

That would be the screwball comedy -- something so goofy and ridiculous that you certainly can't take it seriously yet conceived and executed so well that you can't help but be royally entertained.

And when TrustMovies calls Servillo's character (shown above, center) a Jewish psychiatrist, don't go to this movie expecting anything in which religion plays much of a part (Catholicism is almost as important here as Judaism). Fortunately, more than anything else, the film is a very human and humane comedy. You end up rooting for just about every character in it. And since a couple of them are escaped felons and another in a con artist/scammer, this is something of an accomplishment for Amato, his cast and crew.

The movie begins with a very screwy-looking fellow (the scary/funny Luca Marinelli, above, right), having just buried something in the ground, trying his best to count off the paces from where his "loot" now resides. Clearly he is mathematically, maybe mentally, challenged. But he's oddly amusing, even so. We won't return to him again until perhaps the movie's final forty minutes. But when we do, the remainder of the "plot" suddenly begins falling into place, and the film grows more bizarre and hilarious right up into and including the end credits (which you really must sit thru to reap the full comedic benefits).

Along its meandering but wise and witty way, Let Yourself Go makes smart fun of everything from psychotherapy (above) to physical fitness (below), synagogues and Communion. To try to describe the plot would only give away too much and probably ruin some fun in the process.

Best to just mention how very good is the Spanish actress Verónica Echegui (at right, above and below, of My Prison Yard and Bunny and the Bull) as the young exercise trainer who gives our shrink his new lease on life.  Ms Echegui has been doing lovely work for fifteen years now. She does not seem to age much and just grows more charming and versatile with each new role.

As for Servillo, the actor proves he can handle a mainstream comedy as easily and well as he does those various "art" films. He knows how to simply be quiet, alert and on-the-mark and thus manages to pull in every bit of humor he (and his movie) needs. As the "straight" man around whom the satellite of comic performers revolve, he asks for neither laughs nor sympathy yet somehow gets both. What an actor this guy is!

A non-stop delight that grow better, funnier and crazier as it moves long, Let Yourself Go -- from Menemsha Films and running 112 minutes -- opens here in South Florida this coming Friday, March 2 in the Miami area at the AMC Aventura, in Boca Raton at the Living Room Theaters and the Regal Shadowood, in Fort Lauderdale at the Savor Cinema, in Hollywood at the Cinema Paradiso, in Tamarac at The Last Picture Show and at the Movies of Del Ray and Lake Worth.

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