Anjali and I saw the brilliant Divorzio all’italiana AKA Divorce Italian Style by Pietro Germi this weekend. I am largely ignorant of Italian cinema outside of a college viewing of Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief). Anjali had the interest when she saw that the Northwest Film Center was showing the film and I acquiesced, only to be utterly surprised at what an ageless, biting comic masterpiece the movie is. Marcello Mastroianni is brilliant as the lead character Baron Ferdinand “Fefe” Cefalu who desperately wants to be free of his mustachioed, mono-browed wife, Rosalia (an excellent performance by Daniela Rocca) so he can be with his 16-year old first cousin Angela (Stefania Sandrelli). Marcello is irresistible, if detestable, as the dastardly husband who we first meet eyeing up a young girl on a train. The movie finds satirical humor in (and offers a scathing critique of) the darkest aspects of Sicilian society from culturally-demanded and pardonable uxoricide to the acceptability of sexually assaulting your domestic servants. In 1963 the movie recieved Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role, and won Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen.
For those in the Portland area, the NW Film Center is showing Pietro Germi’s follow-up film Sedotta e abbandonata (Seduced and Abandoned) this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the 25th-27th of January, 2008. I am eager to see it, and highly recommend checking it out based on seeing Divorzio all’italiana.