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Vita coi figli (1990)

As someone who has never been fond of foreign films that force the viewer to read subtitles, this was one of those occasions where subtitles would have been fondly welcome.  As I delve into the filmography of Monica Bellucci I'm learning to prepare myself for an onslaught of foreign films, many (such as this two part TV mini-series) not available with English dubbing or subtitles.  It's an interesting experience watching a film without knowing exactly what any of the characters are saying, having to decipher the film's plot through the characters facial expressions, tones and mannerisms.  It also forces you to pay close attention to what's going on, because every detail can lend some information as to exactly what's going on.  Obviously the level of possible enjoyment is slightly diminished in such a situation, but oddly enough sitting through about a three hour mini-series in Italian, without translation, turned out to be not as bad as I imagined it would be.

Vita coi figli (Living with children) is a two part Italian TV miniseries, which stars a few recognizable actors.  Giancarlo Giannini (Casino RoyaleQuantum of Solace) is the lead character Adriano, a recently widowed father of five who finds himself overwhelmed when he's left to play father and mother to a group of kids whose lives he hadn't taken a whole lot of interest in prior.  He turns to his wife's close friend (who had survived the accident that killed his wife) Valeria (Bond Girl Corinne Cleary from Moonraker) but he doesn't seem to find much comfort in her presence.  It's not until he meets Elda (Monica Bellucci) a young and attractive flight attendant that his life truly turns upside down.

It's 45 minutes into Part 1 of the mini-series before Bellucci makes an appearance, as her character seemingly jumps into Adriano's car during a rain storm and bums a ride home without even knowing who he is.  That's certainly not an everyday occurrence, beautiful women jumping into strangers cars... well at least it's not usually a legal occurrence.  So while things are beginning to spiral out of control with his children Adriano is finding a renewed burst of youth in his unconventional relationship with a girl whose about the age of his oldest son.  It's a relationship that appears to be working nicely for a while until Adriano's disregard towards his children begins to catch up with him and Elda realizes the age difference isn't going to work.  In the final quarter of the film Adriano finds himself being avoided by Elda, eventually he learns the relationship is over but who Elda replaced him with is an interesting final twist to the story.

Ultimately Vita coi figli is the story of one man dealing with an unexpected series of events, discovering his youth once again in the relationship with a much younger woman and finally coming to grips with his age, and the fact that he hasn't been there for his family like he should have.  For a two part mini-series completely in Italian (except for the theme song, which I thought was odd) Vita coi figli was a nice surprise, it's nothing exceptional but it manages to stay moderately interesting even though the plot appeared to be pretty standard.  Moncia Bellucci is breathtaking, and it was interesting to see that her first on screen role essentially set up the type of characters and the direction of her career.  I guess if you're that good looking why not continually play the stunning love interest?


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