Uber-awesome Film Movement has granted lovers of independent (mostly foreign) films a special treat in releasing two titles in its spectacular Film of the Month Club in January 2014. The previously reviewed Japanese romdramcom "The Key of Life" came out today, and the Italian comedy "Garibaldi's Lovers" is hitting real and virtual store shelves on January 21,2014. The perfect record of every title in this series earned the club a spot on Unreal TV's recent post on the best home video surprises of 2014.
The most obvious characteristic of "Lovers" that makes this film stand out from the herd of thoroughbreds in Film Movement's stable is that it combines the best elements of recent Club selections.
This film centers around of the quests of a widowed middle-aged Italian plumber Leo related to helping his troubled teen children bringing him into contact with attorney Malafanno, who has hired economically and spiritually struggling artist Diana, who is trying to avoid eviction by her landlord Amanzio, who independently befriends Leo's wonderfully quirky son.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of Film Movement's excellent trailer for "Lovers" provides an excellent sense of the offbeat humor of the film while keeping spoilers to a minimum.
The figurative trials and actual tribulations to which the trailer alludes include the daughter's boyfriend uploading a sex video that the daughter did not even know that he made, Diana pursuing payment from a bankrupt patron who is also facing criminal charges, Leo trying to move on after his wife's fatal accident, and Leo's son not explaining his reasons for carrying around fish heads and dead frogs.
Director Silvio Soldini (who has directed three prior Club titles) expertly combining these stories is reminiscent of the French drama "Three Worlds," which introduced Unreal TV to this awesome foreign film series. "Worlds" tells the tales of three highly diverse individuals who meet as a result of a hit-and-run car accident.
The hilarious dark humor related to emotionally damaged Leo and his equally dysfunctional children evokes memories of the Dutch film "The Deflowering of Eva Van End." That also reviewed movie shows the impact of a seemingly perfect German exchange student entering the home of family that is barely keeping the lid on their personal Pandora's box before this disruptive newcomer enters their home and lives.
Wonderfully quirky elements, which include but are not limited to the titular Garibaldi being a highly opinionated talking statue of the 19th century military hero of Italian unification and Leo regularly consulting with the ghost of his late wife, add a terrifically Felliniesque surreal quality to this modern Italian classic.
"Lovers" also shares the common element of universal themes that make every movie in the Film Movement series globally relatable.
Many of us have quirky periods and horrible betrayals by significant others during our adolescence (and often in adulthood as well), parents across the globe struggle to understand and support their children during these difficulties, everyone perpetually mourns the loss of an especially loved person in their lives while still craving someone with whom they can share their lives, and those of us who desire to express their insight into the world through an artistic medium can feel intense frustration when the hoi polloi do not value that message.
The awesomeness of "Lovers" includes that it tells all of those generally depressing truths in an entertainingly humorous manner; this is one case in which a spoonful of sugar in the form of Soldini choosing to make us laugh rather than cry really helps the medicine go down. He would be a wonderful person with whom to discuss life, history, and film-making over an Espresso and canoli in a sidewalk cafe.
The short, which every film in the Club includes, is pure sugar. The very artistically drawn and wonderfully animated seven-minute film "The Kiosk" is a delightful tale of Olga, who sells snacks and a wide variety of periodicals to an equally wide variety of patrons. Rather than having three worlds collide ala the French film referred to above, the artist who bring Olga to life find a clever way to allow her to experience the best of two worlds.
The obvious conclusion regarding the exceptional "Lovers" is that it is one of the best charming character-driven films to come along for a while and is well worth adding to any DVD collection.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Lovers" or any other Film Movement title is encouraged to email me. You can also find me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.