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Veteran Italian actress Laura Morante (The Son’s Room) delivers an assured directorial follow-up to her 2012 comedy Cherry on the Cake with her sophomore feature about a middle-aged woman reassessing her life after two failed marriages. Featuring a typically stellar starring turn by the actress who also co-scripted, Solo (Assolo), recently featured at the Film Center of Lincoln Center’s Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series, is a crowd-pleaser that should easily translate to international audiences.
An amusing Fellini-esque sequence depicts the funeral of 50-year-old Flavia (Morante), attended by all her former husbands and lovers who agree on one thing: that she was a very difficult woman. After a somber beginning, the event turns into a lavish celebratory party.
But as we soon learn, Flavia is actually very much alive and newly single after yet another disastrous relationship, this time with a married man. She’s also extremely emotionally dependent on all the people in her life, including her agreeable ex-husbands; their new wives, who she unsuccessfully tries to emulate; her two sons; and her friends. But perhaps her closest attachment is to her neighbor’s adorable dog, who frequently shows up at her doorstep and who she fears is the victim of abuse.
More than a little reminiscent of a Woody Allen comedy, the film is structured around Flavia’s sessions with her caring, older shrink (Piera Degli Esposti), who patiently tries to guide her through her neurotic crises. But it’s not easy, as evidenced by such fantasy sequences as when Flavia imagines herself being ridiculed by her loved ones for confusing the words “water” and “wetter” (it’s funnier than it sounds).
Flavia’s deep need for an emotional connection is further emphasized when her neighbor gives away the dog and refuses to tell Flavia exactly where’s it’s gone. Knowing only that the pooch has been sent to the countryside, Flavia helplessly wanders around, stopping at random farms.
Morante, still looking luminous at nearly age 60, movingly conveys her character’s loneliness and insecurities while garnering plenty of laughs, with the result that you’ll root for her at every turn. If the film’s execution sometimes feels familiar — a scene in which Flavia exchanges flirtatious glances with a handsome man at a bar and engages in a torrid dance with him winds up exactly as you’d expect — the feelings engendered are no less genuine. And the wonderful conclusion suggests that a newly empowered Flavia no longer needs a man in her life to achieve happiness … as long as she has a loyal dog.
Venue: Open Roads: New Italian Cinema
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Production company: Cinemaundici
Cast: Laura Morante, Piera Degli Esposti, Francesco Pannofino, Lambert Wilson, Marco Giallini, Donatella Finocchiaro, Angela Finocchiaro
Director: Laura Morante
Screenwriters: Laura Morante, Daniele Costantini
Producers: Luigi Musini, Olivia Musini, Renato Ragosta
Director of photography: Fabio Zamarion
Production designer: Luca Merlini
Editor: Esmeralda Calabria
Costume designer: Agata Cannizzaro
Composer: Nicola Piovani
Not rated, 97 minutes
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