Eye For Film >> Movies >> Italy: Love It, Or Leave It (2011) Film Review
Italy: Love It, Or Leave It
Reviewed by: Val Kermode
Luca and Gustav share a flat in Rome. It's Luca's home town, but Gustav comes from Alto Adige, that part of Italy which thinks of itself as Austrian, and he wants them to leave Italy and go to live in Berlin. Luca likes Berlin, but can't imagine living there all the time – the cold, the rain..!
Many of their friends have already left for other countries, for various reasons - talented people who see no future in Italy.
The film opens with the two of them arguing in their flat as they pack up their possessions. With the argument unresolved, they decide to set off on a tour of the country, giving themselves six months to find out whether it's worth staying.
This is really just a humorous device to examine a serious subject, the multiple problems of modern Italy. Their vehicle of choice is a Fiat 500 and, just to be clear that we are all in on the joke from the beginning, the car keeps changing colour along the way, something which one notices and the other denies.
It's a glossy, entertaining film which uses animation, archive clips, grainy “holiday videos” and interviews with a whole host of characters. In the car, Luca lists his many reasons for staying in Italy, which include Michelangelo, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale… He's seen trying to learn German, “molto difficile”. Their conversation is in Italian with subtitles, but there is English voiceover.
There are many laugh out loud moments, particularly when they visit a crowd of Berlusconi supporters, mainly old men, and proceed to interview them. Obviously, the time of filming was ripe for humour, with the media full of bunga bunga stories.
But this light treatment points up the seriousness of the whole situation. First stop is Milan where the pair talk to a worker from Fiat, once a company which cared for all its employees. Now they work long shifts with hardly a break and live in fear of redundancy. It's even worse at Bialetti, manufacturer of their beloved coffee maker, where the workers have been sacked and the company now operates from Romania.
When they decide to pay a visit to George Clooney (not at home) on Lake Como, Luca reflects on the beauty of the place. Gustav points out that the lake is highly polluted. “Italy is beautiful on the surface.”
Their journey includes Rimini, place of childhood memories, now full of Russian tourists; Naples, full of garbage; Calabria - toxic waste and illegal building; Puglia - struggling immigrants; and, of course, Sicily, where one brave man describes his stand against the Mafia.
But Luca isn't done. He takes Gustav to see some individuals who believe in fighting back, like Lorella Zanardo, author of Il Corpo Delle Donne , who attacks the portrayal of women in the media, particularly Italian TV, as pieces of meat. And they visit Nichi Vendola, the openly gay mayor of Bari, who says that when people choose to leave their country, a void remains which is then filled by the very things they despise.
The film ends with the couple back in Rome. What have they decided? Well, Luca says, he once saw a teeshirt which said “Life is too short not to be Italian.”Reviewed on: 16 Jun 2012
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