Monday, January 29, 2018
Marriage Italian Style
Based on the play Filumena Marturano by Eduardo De Filippo, Matrimonio all’italiana (Marriage Italian Style) is the story of a man who meets a country woman in Naples during World War II as his frequent visits to this woman lead to some major revelations about his relationship and the fact that she gave birth to three sons as he might be the father of one of them. Directed by Vittorio de Sica and screenplay by Renato Castellani, Tonino Guerra, Leo Benvenuti, and Piero De Bernardi, the film is a romantic comedy of sorts that play into a man’s relationship with this woman who would become a prostitute as he deals with the situation he’s in. Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Aldo Puglisi, Tecla Scarano, and Marilu’ Tolo. Matrimonio all’italiana is a lively and evocative film from Vittorio de Sica.
The film follows a man who learns that his former flame is dying just as he’s about to get married to a younger woman as he reflects on how he met her and his relationship with her. The film explores this relationship that lasted for more than 20 years during from the final years of Fascist Italy in World War II to the 1960s where they run a bakery though the relationship has had its ups and downs. The film’s screenplay opens with Filumena Marturano passed out as she is being carried to her apartment where the possibility of her dying is looming forcing her maid Lucia (Enza Maggi) and the loyal servant Alfredo (Aldo Puglisi) to call on the apartment’s landlord and Filumena’s on-again, off-again lover Don Domenico Soriano (Marcello Mastroianni) to help out. Much of the first act is about how Don Soriano met Filumena at a brothel when she was just a seventeen-year old prostitute during a bombing raid in Naples and then meet her again two years later where they start a relationship.
It’s a relationship where Don Soriano would give Filumena a place to live as well as work and run his bakery while he’s often out of the country doing business and later having affairs with young cashiers. The second act is about Filumena and her life when Don Soriano is out of town as it’s told from her perspective as well as a major revelation in her life as she had given birth to three different sons in different periods of time. Don Soriano wouldn’t know about her three sons until the third act where Don Soriano is dealing with a scheme Filumena and her servants supposedly had concocted but it would also come with complications about her three sons.
Vittorio de Sica’s direction has elements of style but it maintains a tone that mixes light-hearted humor with elements of melodrama. Shot on location in Naples, the film does play into this world that mixes the idea of the working class and rural locations that Filumena is a part of to the more upper class world that Don Soriano is from as he wears expensive shoes and stylish suits. While de Sica would use some wide shots to capture some of the locations as well as some shots in the apartment for the big crowd scenes. Much of what de Sica would do is maintain a sense of intimacy in his approach to close-ups and medium shots in the way he would develop the relationship between Don Soriano and Filumena such as a scene during their relationship early in the film where Filumena thinks about a bright future but Don Soriano is too concerned with being successful. The approach to humor is offbeat as it help play into this supposed scheme that Filumena might be playing at in what she wants to do to Don Soriano but it also serves a purpose for the film’s melodrama.
The film’s melodrama is key into the second act as it relates to the introduction of Filumena’s three sons as children including a scene where two boys who don’t know each other come into the bakery where they eat pastries unaware that their mother is watching them with such fondness. It also play into moments where she really has no idea about the way the law works in what she is trying to do due to her rural background as it lead to Don Soriano trying to use his background and power to get what he wants. The film’s third act isn’t just about these revelations over what Don Soriano would discover but also forces him to deal with his actions where de Sica restrains the melodrama to mix both comedy and drama including these moments with Filumena’s sons where it has these subtle moments of humor. Overall, de Sica crafts a rapturous yet witty film about a turbulent relationship between a businessman and a prostitute in Naples.
Cinematographer Roberto Gerardi does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its natural and colorful approach to some of the daytime exteriors in some of the film’s gorgeous locations as well as the usage of stylish lighting for the scenes at night as well as some of the film’s interior scenes. Editor Adriana Novelli does excellent work with the editing as it has elements of rhythmic cuts to play into the drama as well as much of the film’s humor. Production designer Carlo Egidi and set decorator Dario Micheli do amazing work with the look of the apartment that Filumena lives in as well as the bakery that she works at which is run by Don Soriano.
Costume designer Piero Tosi does fantastic work with the costumes from the look of the suits that Don Soriano wear to the stylish dresses and lingerie that Filumena wears. The sound work of Ennio Sensi is superb for capturing some of the chaotic sounds in some of the location as it relate to large crowds as well as some of the film’s quieter moments. The film’s music by Armando Trovajoli is wonderful for its lush and somber orchestral score that play into the melodrama as well as parts of the film’s humor.
The film’s marvelous cast feature some notable small roles from Enza Maggi as Filumena’s loyal maid Lucia, Tecla Scarano as a prostitute/friend of Filumena in Rosalia, and Aldo Puglisi as the loyal servant Alfredo. In the roles of Filumena’s three sons, Vito Moricone as Riccardo, Generoso Cortini as Michele, and Gianni Ridolfi as Umberto are superb in their roles as three young men who each have something to offer as they all display traits that would confuse Don Soriano. Marilu’ Tolo is wonderful as Diana as Don Soriano’s fiancée who has no clue on what is going on as she also suspects about Don Soriano’s sudden odd behavior late in the film.
Finally, there’s the duo of Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Don Domenico Soriano and Filumena Marturano. Mastroianni has this air of charm that he exudes throughout the film while his comedic timing is a joy to watch in the way he reacts to things where all of the cool factor that he’s known for is thrown out of the window. Loren has this air of grace that is prevalent throughout the film while also being playful in the way she displays her sex appeal as someone that wants to have a simple life but also what is best for her sons. Mastroianni and Loren do provide this great sense of rapport and comedic timing with each other as they are a major highlight of the film.
Matrimonio all’italiana is a sensational film from Vittorio De Sica that features incredible performances from Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren. Along with its gorgeous visuals, sumptuous score, and the mixture of comedy and melodrama, it’s a film that is an offbeat film that offers so much but also has a lot of heart and characters that are a joy to watch. In the end, Matrimonio all’italiana is a spectacular film from Vittorio De Sica.
Vittorio De Sica Films: (Rose scarlatte) - (Maddalena, zero in condotta) - (Teresa Venerdi) - (Un garibaldino al convento) - (The Children Are Watching Us) - (La porta del cielo) - (Shoeshine) - (Heart and Soul (1948 film)) - Bicycle Thieves - (Miracle in Milan) – Umberto D. - (It Happened in the Park) - (Terminal Station) - (The Gold of Naples) - (The Roof) - (Anna of Brooklyn) - Two Women (1960 film) - (The Last Judgment) - (Boccaccio ‘70) - (The Condemned of Altona) - (Il Boom) - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow - (Un monde nouveau) - (After the Fox) - (Woman Times Seven) - (Le streghe) - (A Place for Lovers) - (Sunflowers (1970 film)) - (The Garden of Finzi-Continis) - (Lo chiameremo Andrea) - (A Brief Vacation) - (The Voyage)
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