Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
This richly detailed saga of multi-generational family life in Italy begins at the turn of the century, where an old man (Vittorio Gassman) is celebrating his 80th birthday while baby Carlo has just been born. The film then forwards to Carlo’s rambunctious childhood with his little brother Giorgio, then further on to his adulthood when he meets Adriana, who is the older sister of his student Beatrice. The years continue on until Carlo’s old age (at which point Gassman returns to play him, and magnificently) as we find out the rocky road of love and family that his life has travelled, involving his love of both sisters and the outcome of their relationships. Interestingly enough, the entire film is played out inside the one palatial house in which the family lives; Ettore Scola’s camera never leaves the many rooms of this grand manor, yet the screenplay is so rich with character interaction that the film never feels stifled or claustrophobic. All the scenes involving Carlo’s three maiden aunts and their constant bickering are a wonderful touch, and while the film isn’t effortlessly brilliant, it is very poignant and has moments of heartbreaking beauty. Fanny Ardant co-stars (dubbed in Italian), and is perfectly lovely.
Cinematography by Ricardo Aronovich
Produced by Franco Committeri
Music by Armando Trovajoli
Costume Design by Gabriella Pescucci
Film Editing by Francesco Malvestito