Falling under the heading of “Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed”: Raffaele Verzillo’s film, 100 Metri Dal Pardiso (100 Meters from Paradise) is old school Italian comedy.
This 2012 inspirational sports movie is not all that bad, even though it’s predictable and sentimental. It’s a movie about the Catholic Church, and a nice one for a change. Catholics should love it, even with the occasional swearing. My Italian teacher once told me that swearing isn’t as big of a deal in Italy as it is here in the US, and that everyone swears.
“Even the Pope?” I asked.
“I don’t know if the Pope swears!” She was annoyed. “Everyone else does.”
Maybe she’s right; the Vatican newspaper gave 100 Metri Dal Paradiso a good review, saying that it bordered on the profane, but is “never quite disrespectful”.
So remember that, when you watch it, American Catholics; the Vatican has decreed that you should not be offended. It’s got the “C” word, and in Italian, the “C” word is not the same as the English one although they are equally insulting. Anyway, enough about the swearing.
Mario Guarrazzi (Jordi Mollà) is a former athletic champion who for years regretted never having won a medal at the Olympics. He sees his second chance in his son Tommaso (Lorenzo Richelmy), a promising track star, who loves the sport but also loves the church. When Tommaso expresses his desire to become a Catholic Brother, everybody except family friend Angelo (Domenico Fortunato), a monsignor, is disappointed.
Angelo is a progressive thinking Catholic, always looking for ways to modernize the church and reach more people, so the idea for the Vatican to send a team to the Olympics kills two birds with one stone: in Angelo’s opinion it will keep Tommaso interested in the London 2012 games and give the Catholic church some positive PR, though not everyone at the Vatican agrees.
With the help of his sister Marcella (Giulia Bevilacqua) and some silly B-movie shenanigans, Angelo overcomes the skepticism of Church traditionalists and builds a team of a nun, priests, and brothers to take to London. You could probably write the end of this movie yourselves.
My low expectations for this movie were exceeded, and I was even a little moved by a couple of scenes. In one, the team members convinced the doubters by expressing their sincere desires to compete for the glory of the church, and it wasn’t as corny as it sounds.
In another, Angelo compares the church to Coca Cola. He says that for years, they have remained the same product but that Coca Cola understands the need for new ads and promotion. Few could argue that the Catholic Church could use some positive PR.
100 Metri Dal Paradiso is just that, and if you love feel good sports movies, you might not even have to be Catholic to enjoy it.
(This film is available only in PAL region 2 form but there are English subtitles.)
Director: Raffaele Verzillo
Writers: Pier Francesco Corona, Salvatore De Mola
Stars: Arianna Bergamaschi, Giulia Bevilacqua, Giorgio Colangeli
2012 – 95 minutes