Marriage Italian-Style

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

So-FEE-uh and Mar-CHELL-oh! That was surely the major draw for audiences who flocked to Vittorio De Sica’s frivolous, Oscar-nominated dramedy—which examines the tempestuous relationship between prostitute Filumena Marturano (Loren, radiant even sans makeup) and playboy Domenico Soriano (Mastroianni, delightful as a slick-haired rake)—and it’s the only reason to see it now. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: Star power can make up for a lot, and these two burn extra bright. The opening’s a grabber, as Filumena, seemingly at death’s door, is carried to her bed by a crowd of neighbors while the self-involved Domenico, busy trying on hats, is called to her side. Cue a pair of lengthy flashbacks—one from each character’s perspective—that trace the duo’s decades-spanning love-hate affair.

History rolls along (“Eisenhower elected U.S. President!,” screams a newspaper headline—must be 1952) while Filumena and Domenico deal with ebbing and flowing attractions, illegitimate children and a fraudulent wedding. Then the wet-eyed stuff comes: sacrifices, reconciliations and a marriage (in da style of de Italianos) for real this time. De Sica is no stranger to jerking one’s tear ducts, but the central duo here doesn’t have anything approaching the emotional resonance of, say, a pair of bicycle thieves or an old man and his dog living on the street. Yet we still get Loren and Mastroianni. So why complain too churlishly? Also on the bill is Federico Fellini’s amusing 53-minute short from Boccaccio ’70 (“The Temptation of Dr. Antonio”), about a censorious prude badgered by an Attack of the 50 Foot Woman–sized Anita Ekberg. It’s a scenario that’s milked (literally) for every drop of amusement.

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