Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Silvio Soldini
Stars: Licia Maglietta, Giuseppe Battiston, Emilio Solfrizzi, Marina Massironi
Following their collaboration on the winning comedy Bread And Tulips, Italian director Silvio Soldini and luminous star Licia Maglietta re-unite for this follow-up, the romantic comedy Agatha And The Storm. But after the delightfully sly humour and warmth of their previous film, this surreal and off beat comedy is a major disappointment, flat, unconvincing, and for the most part lacking humour or interest for the casual viewer.
Agatha (Maglietta) is a bookshop proprietor who is dealing with a handsome younger client, who is infatuated with her. At the same time, her brother Gustavo (Emilio Solfizzi) discovers that he is in fact adopted, and he walks out on his fragile marriage to discover more about his past, and spend time with his half-brother Romeo (Giuseppe Battiston), a lovable, womanising rogue and colourful clothing salesman.
In exploring the dynamics of this strange extended and at times dysfunctional family, Agatha And The Storm comes across as little more than glossy melodrama, full of incident and characters, but never really offering any real insights into them or their relationships. It is hard for the audience to become emotionally engaged with anyone here, and the characters are so thinly sketched out that is hard for us to sympathise with them either. And an unexpected tragedy towards the end brings an unnecessarily discordant note to proceedings.
Agatha is occasionally given to highly emotional outbursts, especially when upset or frustrated, which give off an energy that affects electrical equipment around her (light bulbs, computers, etc). However, not enough is made of the comic potential of this unusual device, and it seems like a curious and quirky throwaway subplot that never amounts to much. Nonetheless, Maglietta brings a wonderfully sensual quality to her performance as a liberated woman, and her passionate interpretation of her strong and eccentric character grounds this otherwise banal film.<
The pace throughout is leisurely but, stretched out over an inordinately generous two hour running time given the slim material, it sometimes seems slow and will try the patience of many. Soldini’s usual light touch and genial approach seems to have deserted him and Agatha And The Storm is clumsy and dull rather than bright and zippy and funny. It is surprising that such a slight and ultimately uninvolving film received eight nominations for the Italian equivalent of the Oscars!
Unfortunately, this is one storm it is not worth getting too worked up about!