Divorce a l’Italienne

19101659Divorzio all’Italiana
Pietro Germi :: Italy :: 1961 :: 1h44

Ferdinando (Marcello Mastroianni) is a 37 year old baron living in a small sleepy town in Sicily. Other then avoiding the southern heat during the day, there is but one thing haunting his days – his desire for the beautiful young Angela (Stefania Sandrelli). There is however a catch – the wife. His empty existence becomes filled with wild fantasies of murder to be able to separate himself from his “till death do us part” allegiance. As time cruelly drags by, and Angela affirms her love for him too, he starts to hatch a plan to trap his wife.

In a period of post-war Italy where progress is sweeping along, there are still remnants of another Italy, one in which divorce is cruelly illegal, where honour dictates behaviour and where the Mob can always lend a helping hand when required. The film clearly intends to show its contemporaries of the disparities (and injustices) in their rapidly evolving society. Italy has in fact changed so much, that watching the film today seems to land you in another world altogether, even if it was already a caricature at the time.

Obscure morality and historical relevance aside, what a dark comedy to watch! Mastroianni is, of course, fabulous as the devious bungling aristocratic anti-hero, whipping up sympathy where there should not be any. The movie is rightfully classed as a masterpiece of Italian comedy. If you have not seen its dry humour in the Mediterranean heat, I could not recommend it more.

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