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Garibaldi's Lovers DVD Review

Garibaldi's Lovers DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Garibaldi's Lovers (Il Commandante e la Cicogna)

Italian Theatrical Release: October 18, 2012 / Running Time: 109 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Silvio Soldini / Writers: Silvio Soldini, Doriana Leondeff, Marco Pettenello (story & screenplay)

Cast: Valerio Mastandrea (Leone "Leo" Buonvento), Alba Rohrwacher (Diana Rigamenti), Giuseppe Battiston (Amanzio Zosulich), Claudia Gerini (Teresa Buonvento), Maria Paiato (Cinzia), Luca Dirodi (Elia Buonvento), Serena Pinto (Maddalena Buonvento), Yang Shi (Fiorenzo), Michele Maganza (Emiliano Patuasso), Fausto Russo Alesi (Real Estate Agent), Giuseppe Cederna (Supermarket Director), Giselda Volodi (Gallery Owner), Luca Zingaretti (Malaffano), Pierfrancesco Favino (voice of Giuseppe Garibaldi), Gigio Alberti (voice of Cazzaniga), Neri Marcorè (voice of Giacomo Leopardi and Leonardo Da Vinci), Franco Barbero (Doctor Lattanzi)

2.40.1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (Italian), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (Italian)
Subtitles: English / Closed Captioned / Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
DVD Release Date: January 21, 2014
Suggested Retail Price: $24.95 / Clear Keepcase / Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

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Best known for the 2000 romantic comedy Bread and Tulips, Italian writer-director Silvio Soldini is something of a staple of Film Movement.
The specialty distributor of new independent and foreign films has handled the North American release of his every subsequent narrative feature, including Agata and the Storm, Days and Clouds, and Come Undone. Soldini's latest, the 2012 comedy Garibaldi's Lovers, recently made its way to the States in a Film Movement DVD released outside the company's signature film-of-the-month club.

The equestrian statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi that overlooks Rome is one of several sculptures personified. Voiced by Pierfrancesco Favino, the 19th century general functions as a kind of poetic, philosophizing narrator, commenting on what he observes from his high vantage point atop Janiculum Hill. What we see is a slice of life from a number of Italians who are interconnected.

Widowed plumber Leo Buonvento (Valerio Mastandrea) and broke artist Diana Rigamenti (Alba Rohrwacher) pose as a couple looking to rent an apartment in "Garibaldi's Lovers."

They include Diana Rigamenti (Alba Rohrwacher), a broke, struggling, boldly bespectacled artist who is owed money from a job and is given two days to pay up the overdue rent on her apartment. Her landlord is Amanzio Zosulich (Giuseppe Battiston) an obese, principled eccentric. Equally broke and unemployed, he is one of two supermarket shoplifters caught. Zosulich claims he was doing them a favor, by reclaiming expired food. The other shoplifter is Elia (Luca Dirodi), a teenaged boy who pulls frogs out of a frozen meal for an experiment involving a stork named Agostina he feeds.

Elia's father, Leo (Valerio Mastandrea), is a plumber raising two teenaged children on his own. He regularly talks with his bikini-clad wife (Claudia Gerini), who we come to realize is a ghost only he can see. Their 16-year-old daughter Maddelena (Serena Pintucci) is crushed to discover that a stealthily-made sex tape of her has turned up online.

Leo turns to an attorney (Luca Zingaretti), the same one who has commissioned Diana to paint a large, bizarre mural at his workplace featuring such incompatible elements as a soccer team flag and a topless zebra rider. The attorney agrees to help Leo get the offensive video pulled off the Internet for free in exchange for him and Diana posing as a couple to purchase an apartment for him. That underhanded transaction ends up being of interest to Maddelena's older new boyfriend (Michele Maganza), who is investigating the lawyer for fraud.

This Janiculum Hill statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi is one of several personified with voiceover. Teenaged nerd Elia (Luca Dirodi) and obese landlord Amanzio (Giuseppe Battiston) make for an unlikely friendship.

The threads all lead to German Switzerland, where Elia is believed to have run off to along with his friend Zosulich.

While Garibaldi's Lovers is classified as a comedy, there are few obvious laughs to be found. Complex and unusual storytelling distinguishes this film, which differs sharply from its American counterparts. That may be the chief appeal of this production,
which has played festivals in Japan, Poland and the US following its October 2012 native release by Warner Bros. Pictures. Its characterization, overlapping narratives, tonal peculiarity, and faint social commentary all make it stand out for those who have grown tired of American cinema's offerings. But they don't add up to much of note or much to enjoy.

Though not rated, Garibaldi's Lovers would clearly warrant an "R" from the MPAA.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The DVD's 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer looks good for standard definition. The wide visuals are presented without any glaring shortcomings, though close inspection indicates that the colors fluctuate slightly. The Italian soundtrack is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Stereo 2.0, the latter strangely being the default. Not the most remarkable mix, it is nonetheless capably distributed and the English subtitles are without issue (whereas the burned-in one of the trailer are marred by a typo). A few bits of foreign dialogue are translated into Italian via burned-in subtitles.

Biographies are supplied for Film Movement favorite Silvio Soldini and his sorta leading lady, Alba Rohrwacher. In the bonus animated short, Anete Melece's "The Kiosk", a woman sells candy and newspapers from her mobile home.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Two-page biographies are provided for director Silvio Soldini and actress Alba Rohrwacher.

A trailer for Garibaldi's Lovers (2:15)

is fittingly included.

Unrelated bonus short The Kiosk (7:02), written and directed by Anete Melece, is a Swiss animated short that spends a few days in the life of a newspaper stand and the woman who works and lives there. She serves an assortment of customers, who utter little understandable dialogue (mostly gibberish). It's just as strange as it sounds.

The DVD opens with trailers for Shun Li and the Poet and Soldini's Come Undone and Days and Clouds. The trailers are also accessible from a menu, where they are joined by previews for The Day I Saw Your Heart, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, and The Deflowering of Eva van End.

"About Film Movement" describes the film-of-the-month club and gives you access to the company promo that plays at disc insertion.

The main menu takes Film Movement's standard approach of placing listing bars over a standard, scored montage.

As usual, the final extra resides inside the clear keepcase. The reverse side of the cover artwork offers two paragraphs explaining Film Movement's selection of Garibaldi's Lovers and two excerpting an interview of the director about the film.

Leo (Valerio Mastandrea) continues to be visited and advised by his deceased wife (Claudia Gerini). Maddalena (Serena Pinto) is devastated by the video of her that's been posted online.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Garibaldi's Lovers is quite a bit different from American cinema, but that doesn't mean it's particularly good. It's a film with ideas, some of which are interesting, though the whole of them fails to add up to something either entertaining or remarkable.

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Reviewed January 26, 2014.



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