Soldini opens the film with a series of statues in an unnamed Italian park conversing on the current state of things. (One of them is Garabaldi - I stopped to go look this up - he considered to be one of Italy's "fathers of the fatherland".)
From Soldini's liner notes:
"...the idea of giving a voice to the statues that have been in our streets and parks for centuries. While we may not even know who they are or what they represent, perhaps they might have something to say to us with respect to where our country is headed."
These statues are given the stage many times to share their thoughts and bicker amongst themselves.
We meet Diana, an artist (Alba Rohrwacher) who is behind on her rent and is desperately trying to collect money owed to her. Leo (Valerio Mastandrea) is a widowed plumber trying to raise his two children - Elia and Maddalena.
Garibaldi's Lovers is a busy film. There are many players and plot lines - Amanzio (Giuseppe Battiston) , an oddball landlord determined to educate the public, Elia's fascination with a stork, Maddlena's fascination with boys, a crooked lawyer, the plumber's assistant whose wife is sure he is cheating and Leo's dead wife (although it took me a scene or two to realize she was dead) Each of these characters is used as a vehicle for social commentary. Soldini manages to serendipitously weave them all the various plot lines together by the end. (although there a few loose ends).
Soldini provides a light touch in addition to the social commentary through whimsical touches and almost slapstick situations. The apartments of all the characters are filled with colour and oddities that capture the eye. There is oompah circus style music in the beginning of the film as well. I did laugh out loud at Diana's mural for the lawyer. I quickly grew tired of the plumbing assistant yelling down the phone at his wife.
Soldini uses a pinhole closing to certain scenes to be sure that our attention is on that moment. There is a lot of symbolism used throughout the film - the stork being the most obvious.
I am really enjoying sampling what Film Movement has to offer and experiencing films from other countries. However, Garibaldi's Lovers is probably my least favourite so far. No, don't get me wrong - it's good. The acting is solid and the plot involving the 'real' people was captivating. The statues and their commentary just didn't work for me. I was able to easily walk away and return the next day to finish watching.
I always enjoy reading the bios of the actors at the end of the film. I was disappointed to find that only the director and Alba Rohrwacher included. I would have liked to read more about the other actors as well - especially Valerio Mastandrea - I thought he was wonderful.
Italy /2012 /Italian with English subtitles / 108 min
As always, there's a small short included with the DVD. The Kiosk is an animated short from Switzerland. A kiosk lady finds herself too large to leave her stand, yet dreams of travelling. A bit sad, but with a sweet little ending.