So, on a whim, I saw the much-lauded Italian comedy Divorce, Italian Style.
And what did I think?
IT WAS HILARIOUS.
Pietro Germi directs the film flawlessly, using a series of innovated cuts, flashbacks and voice-over to help frame the utterly bonkers story. He gives us the perfect mix of tongue-in cheek and straight-laced, constantly giving the film an immense aura of self-awareness that really plays in it’s favor.
The screenplay completely deserved it’s Academy Award, being one of the most wonderfully sharp and sarcastic screenplays I’ve had the pleasure of seeing committed to film. Every line of dialogue is a wonderful send-up/deconstruction of the dialogue you’d come to expect in the ‘forbidden romance’ genre that it so mercilessly parodies.
Marcello Mastroianni plays his character in the only way it could have ever been played: An apathetic, self-centered wanna-be seducer, who, when the chips are down, is very nearly incompetent. It’s really by pure luck that his utterly insane plan secedes, and he’s so vain and self-centered that, when he finally achieves what he wants, he’s completely blind to how it’s now utterly pointless. And yet, you still end up rooting for him more or less, since Mastroianni plays him with such a sense of self-aware swagger that it’s infectious.
All in all, the film is a wonderful jewel in the crown of this kind of black comedy. Alongside the works such as Fargo, it does a wonderful job at making you laugh at utterly insane people.
I give it a 5 out of 5.