Past Perfect


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

We've been here before. Many times. It's a scenario we're all so familiar with it's hard to see why anyone thinks they're going to get any more mileage out of it.

Friends, remembered good times, angst and a small pet dog have a reunion at a country house, owned by one of the gang. The Big Chill, or Peter's Friends, anyone? Except this time it isn't people who are dead or dying, it's their friendships which seem to be going slowly into that good night.

Claudia has invited all her pals round to her house in the winter - usually, they spend the summers there - chiefly to tell them that she is selling up and moving on, possibly with her latest squeeze Alberto. He, predictably, is possessive and can't come along to the gathering, preferring instead to nag her via mobile phone.

Claudia's pals aren't your everyday run-of-the-mill folk, either. Half of them are actors, darling. Or, at least, connected to the industry. Carola - with yappy dog in tow - is determined to be famous "within three years", while Claudia's ex Eduardo is the thespian son of a famous actor, getting all the breaks that their other actor pal Andrea seems to miss out on. The only "normal" member of the group seems to be Gianmaria, though he too is unsettled, especially with his love life.

The story is intercut with flashbacks to earlier summers, when the sun shone and everything in the garden was lovely. Not like now, when the weather is cold, friendships are fracturing and tensions flaring. The problem is, do we really care? Sadly, no.

A more introspective and self-seeking set of individuals would be hard to find. The analogies used are heavy-handed and the script - or at least the translation of it - not much better.

"Being sad is a lifestyle now," says Eduardo, in such tones that you would quite cheerfully reach into the screen, give him a clip round the ear and tell him to grow up.

This is the basic problem with the movie. None of the characters is particularly pleasant. This in itself wouldn't be a reason to dislike it, but the fact that the story plods from one predictable plot point to another is. Everything has the feeling of a set-up, such as when Carola says her dog never goes outside. You just know the four-legged loo roll holder will be out of that door at some point soon.

The acting throughout is convincing, but, despite the ensemble cast's best efforts, there is little to recommend. It won't be the worst film you'll ever see, but it is a very long way from perfect.

Reviewed on: 09 Apr 2004
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Disillusioned friends, many of them actors, meet at a country house in winter.
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Director: Maria Sole Tognazzi

Starring: Paola Cortellesi, Valentina Cervi, Claudio Gioè, Claudio Santamaria, Ignazio Oliva, Pierfrancesco Favino.

Year: 2003

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Italy


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