Those Happy Years (2013)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

Original title:  Anni Felici

Italy/France2013.  Cattleya, Babe Film, Rai Cinema, Toscana Film Commission, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali.  Screenplay by Daniele Luchetti, , , , based on the novel by Daniele Luchetti.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  

Daniele Luchetti recreates the superb energy of My Brother Is An Only Child with another film that hints at his own biography, about a struggling sculptor () who fights against life both in the studio and at home with his devoted wife ().  Stuart can’t stand how much his jealous spouse hangs off him, mortified when he presents a new work at an art exhibition in Milan that she attends against his will, then blaming her when the critics pan his painted-bodies-in-space performance as derivative and simplistic.  Her desperation to be accepted by her husband eventually hits a breaking point, however, and it is not long before a summer away from her man drives her into the arms of a gallery owner () with whom she falls in love.  It’s all told from the point of view of one of the two sons in the film who can’t seem to stay out of trouble for long, particularly in expressing his frustration of his parents’ friction by making it worse with his own cries for attention.  The direction is flawless, the rapid-pace editing and beautiful photography taking you effectively into the world of the pseudo-Bohemian artist without being condescending about it, examining a man caught between tradition and personal satisfaction who focuses on his own desires and constantly disappoints everyone around him.  Lucchetti does not judge his characters harshly, but presents them as gorgeously flawed individuals who are simply working with what they’ve been given: the scene where Stuart finally faces off with his viciously critical mother is as much a valentine to the people he has based the story on as the scenes where they find their connubial bliss.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2013


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