The perfect life / La vita facile

Dir. Lucio Pellegrini

To the traditionally disturbing sounds of tango performed in an intentionally carefree way (bravo the composer Gabriele Roberto!) the white introductory titles speed away along the white separator (hello, Almodovar and the final titles in “Kika”) alternately chasing two vehicles. The cool shining auto with sleek doctor Mario Tirelli at the wheel (Pier Francesco Favino) moves along the streets of Rome. The doctor has a leather attache-case. The coughing motorcycle of doctor Luca (Stefano Accorsi) travels along African roads. The greasy doctor has a UNISEF bag over his shoulder. The doctors are around 40 years old. Once they were fellow students, courted one and the same girl, but the girl chose the one that seemed more promising and 12 years ago they went their separate ways. Now in his own flat even when he is most high-strung, he can’t smoke a good cigar without being nagged – the girl has grown into a vegetarian bent on cleanliness and a healthy way of life. Doctor Luca smokes whenever he pleases, almost in the presence of women in labor. Doctor Mario packs a fur hat and gloves into his suitcase and flies to the African village to meet doctor Luca. Some time later the local plane will bring their common fastidious acquaintance to the same backwater. As the laws of comedy demand, pretty soon the fstidious girl will eat a stake prepared from the meat of the cow, which her friends slaughtered virtually before her very eyes; under the blazing sun the disheveled, dead drunk doctor Mario will curse his entire life, in savory and melodious Italian interspersing his speech with hilarious “testa di homosecco”, while the most aloof and wild Negro boy, perched on his knee, will sympathetically examine him with a stethoscope.
It is a comedy which can be compared to “L'africain” by Philippe de Broca, still the warmly remembered by the viewers of the mid-80s movie.

Essentially the same conflict, the same goofy African texture spanning from side to side of the wide screen, the same rickety planes, the flights and landings of which are accomplished to superb film music (in general in “La vita facile” the music is used very thoughtfully and to the point). Most certainly none of the present-day European actors in their early forties, no matter how talented they are, could boast of the same legendary film reputation as Deneuve and Noiret at the time of “L'africain”. The cinema is different and the times are different. Nevertheless Favino exudes the 220 volts of the charm of the robust and somewhat lost Italian male and mother’s boy simultaneously. Accorsi, who shared the screen time with him in such hits of the Apennines of the new age as “The last Kiss” and “Romanzo criminale” is cast against type to say the least. Some three or four insanely funny episodes do not overshadow the general lyrical intonation, although the adventurist overtones found in the new movie as well, have a very different function.

Should someone ask the question what is such a comedy, light as the life mentioned in the title, doing in the competition of the A-class international film festival, the answer will be simple: its recipe has long been lost while its significance has grown. Just think of it: what do they show on TV more often - “L'africain” or “The Legend of Narayama” which won the Palme d’Or the same year? And there will be no more questions.
Besides the Moscow Festival of the Soviet epoch did not treat comedies condescendingly. While the West indulged in now partially forgotten and far less relevant “waves”, it awarded prizes to “Serafino” (Italy) and “Mimino” (USSR), “Le Corniaud” (France) and “The Great Race” (USA), «Operazione San Gennaro» (Italy) and «Das Spukschlob Im Spessart» (FRG) which are still familiar even to schoolchildren. But this is a theme for a special discussion.

Alexey Vasiliev

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