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Remember Me, My Love

Italians Behaving Badly

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At 7:30 a.m. the alarm sounds in the Ristuccia household in one of Italy's fashionable urban neighborhoods. The family members gripe through their morning routines, peevish and disconnected as an anonymous voiceover informs us that the whole gang is indeed plagued with dissatisfaction.

 

 

Poppa Carlo (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) trudges to his soulless office job. His wife, Guilia (Laura Morante), chauffeurs their two horrid teen-agers -- Paolo (Silvio Muccino) and Valentina (Nicoletta Romanoff) -- and pines about her abandoned community-theater career. Paolo attends college, where the girls don't dig him; Valentina, decidedly overripe at 17, shakes her hip-hugging hot pants at dance class, and longs to be instantly famous.

 

Remember Me, My Love is written and directed by Gabrielle Muccino, who also helmed 2001's The Last Kiss, which explored similar domestic themes of stability vs. fidelity. His latest comedy-drama is mostly a glorified soap opera set amid the zip-zip lives of the well-heeled and cell-phone dependent.

 

Naturally the two adults embark on affairs, Carlo conveniently reuniting with his old flame Alessia (Monica Bellucci). Paolo pursues an ill-advised strategy for getting laid, and in the film's ickiest subplot, young Valentina blithely bonks her way to a "dream job," gyrating bikini-ed and blank-eyed on a silly TV show.

 

In that Muccino limits his social studies in this film to a sub-sub-section of left-leaning, middle-class intelligentsia, Valentina's desire -- and her parents' tacit approval of it -- strikes a wrong note. And his scenes gently riffing on the overheated world of television are so pedestrian that one can only pine for Fellini's marvelously sharp satires about the same entertainment business.

 

Muccino's script does try to present the family as emblematic, adrift because Italy is now post-fascist, post-communist and fretting in her own middle-aged modernity without a clear direction, though such attempts are mostly throwaway lines whose import will be lost on an American audience.

 

Remember's cast is small and homogenous (as in Woody Allen's Upper West Side micro-dramas), a class of people who are so economically and socially comfortable that they can indulge fretfully about their inner lives and unfinished autobiographical novels. Their problems stem mostly from the contemporary expectation that everyone at all times is entitled to full personal fulfillment.

 

Best then to consider Remember's domestic universality of bratty teen-agers and straying husbands, and in this regard, the rapidly paced film is easily entertaining: Tantrums are thrown, faces are slapped, many doors are slammed, and the actors acquit themselves well in a predictable fable about the trade-off of sexy excitement for familiar stability. Remember's resolution occurs via a deus ex machina so hoary that it was probably invented by the dramatists of the Holy Roman Empire. But nobody ever went broke pitching easy sentimentality in the final reel. In Italian with subtitles.

 

 

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