Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Prime Video discovery: Simone Godano's delightful AN ALMOST ORDINARY SUMMER

More than mere coincidence, almost every time TrustMovies sees the Warner Brothers logo on a film from Italy, that movie turns out to be a good one: fun, intelligent, mainstream entertainment. But when that same logo appears on an American movie, it is likely to be one of that studio's schlock blockbusters and a major waste of time for any thinking adult. How can two such divergent reactions keep occurring? Well, Italy has long been known for making wonderful films about family, which this new one -- directed by Simone Godano (shown below) and written by Giulia Louise Steigerwalt (with some input from Signore Godano) -- definitely is. 

AN ALMOST ORDINARY SUMMER (its Italian title is Croce e Delizia, which translates as Cross and Delight) tracks the journey of two Italian families in which the fathers/grandfathers of each have fallen in love (and lust) with each other. 

One family, headed by that highly talented icon of sexy smarts, Alessandro Gassman (below, left), is salt-of-the-earth working class with ultra-traditional values, while the other, under the rule of suave Fabrizio Bentivoglio (below, right), is wealthy, elitist but maybe only a tiny bit "woke."

These patres familias may be in love with each other, but the two families are definitely not. So when one grown child of each -- played by Jasmine Trinca, below left, and Filippo Scicchitano, right -- decides to work with the other to sabotage his and her parent's relationship, the movie grows consistently funnier, earthier, sadder, smarter and simply tons of fun. 

The clever screenplay lets us explore the Italian look at prejudices of all sorts, sexual to class-related, and nobody here comes out super-clean. One of the great strengths of the movie is how mixed a bag each of the characters really is. Yet thanks to the clever plotting, smart writing and excellent performances from the entire ensemble, we end up rooting for them all. 

An Almost Ordinary Summer
is mainstream and feel-good, all right, but it never loses its hold on a reality in which the divergent must be brought together somehow. Boy, we could use this in the USA these days, but instead we have Donald Trump, his lock-step Republicans, and his idiot base doing all they can to hijack this past election -- chanting  "Stop the Vote" in one state while screaming "Count the Vote" in another. Can somebody please pass out a few spare brains to these folk in need?

But I digress. If you need something lovely -- set in a gorgeous locale with sumptuous interiors, verdant seaside exteriors, and lots of delicious-looking food -- that will make you think and laugh and feel very nice indeed, Croce e Delizia  is the film for you. 

From Wolfe Releasing (and available to view via Amazon Prime), in Italian with English subtitles and running  just 100 minutes, give this Italian mainstream gem a whirl.

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