Il Resto Della Notte

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Il Resto della Notte, Cannes, Directors Fortnight

With this uneven but not uninteresting tale of diverse varieties of domestic unhappiness, Italian director Francesco Munzi joins the hoards of European filmmakers currently examining the immigrant phenomenon that threatens (at least according to the continent's popular media) to overwhelm Western civilization.

Munzi looks at three different families, dysfunctional, as Tolstoy might have said, each in its own special way. Unfortunately, despite some noteworthy directorial touches here and there, neither the stories nor the characters ever really convince.

The first family lives in an expensive villa, and the ice-queen wife takes refuge in a modern form of neurasthenia while her husband treats himself to a succulent mistress. They fire Maria, their live-in Romanian maid, when they suspect her of stealing some expensive earrings.

Maria promptly heads back to Ionut, her ex-boyfriend, who is living unhappily in a dump with his younger brother, who naturally detests her. (All dialogue in this part is, laudably, in Romanian.) Dysfunctional family number three is composed of Marco, who's addicted to cocaine, his ex-wife who has taken up with an Arab immigrant, and the eight-year-old son he's forbidden to see.

It all ends in the predictably tragic hail of gunfire (which we don't see) when Ionut and Marco botch a robbery of dysfunctional family number one. Some small success theatrically in Italy is a possibility, but solid television sales elsewhere are the film's best hope.

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