Black And White

Black And White


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Take the colour out of the mix and you have an everyday story of adultery and marriage breakdown.

“You suddenly feel that life can change, but in the long run it never works.”

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Wisdom? Or cliché?

Infatuation is a form of madness. It’s like escaping to a secret garden with the sexiest person in the universe, without kids, family, friends, or responsibilities. It’s like being blind drunk on love. Sooner, rather than later, the rest of the world breaks down the walls and what was once uniquely yours is now hurtful, damaging, selfish and ugly.

Black And White has done phenomenal business at the Italian box office, possibly because it is the first homegrown movie to tackle the race issue, but more likely because of Aissa Maiga's uncanny ability to simulate orgasm.

The blackness and whiteness of thought, word and deed is thrust down the throats of the audience to an unnatural degree. Elena (Ambra Angiolini) is the daughter of racists and so (out of guilt?) works in the Rome office of an African aid agency. Her husband Carlo (Fabio Volo) is an IT nerd who can’t be bothered with all this starving third world stuff. They have a daughter who has a million toys and not much else.

Betrand (Eriq Ebouaney) is a genuine black African man, who works with Elena. He is intelligent, committed, morally grounded and passionate in all the right ways. He is married to Nadine (Maiga), a lovely Senegalese lady. They have two children.

When Nadine and Carlo meet something happens, something electric. Suddenly he’s taking an interest in Africa and volunteers to sort out her crashed computer. One thing leads to that moment when he stares at her, fish-like, and advances with an intense expression on his face. It’s like a scene from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. After some clandestine pumpy – always the best, my friend Don Juan informs me – the dreaded A-word is out in the open and all hell breaks loose. Hell and tears.

The film is marketed as a rom-com, which is misleading, considering a definite lack of com. The racist sub structure feels rickety, as everyone is hypocritical - everyone except Carlo who thinks, if you get this lucky why knock it? There is a weakness in the construct and it’s this. How could a beautiful woman like Nadine find a lumpish, beardy bore like Carlo the slightest bit attractive? There’s no counting for taste, it’s true, but this is pushing it.

Reviewed on: 08 Apr 2009
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Broken boundaries, race relations, illicit sex and family breakdowns - Italian style.

Director: Cristina Comencini

Writer: Giulia Calenda, Cristina Comencini, Maddalena Ravagli

Starring: Fabio Volo, Ambra Angiolini, Aïssa Maïga, Eriq Ebouaney, Katia Ricciarelli, Anna Bonaiuto, Franco Branciaroli, Teresa Saponangelo, Billo Thiernothian, Awa Ly

Year: 2008

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Italy


Italian 2009

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