It’s day two of Indiana University’s Symposium on New Trends in Modern and Contemporary Italian Cinema and Carlo Verdone had selected one of my favorites for the evening film screening: Il Mio Miglior Nemico (My Best Enemy), starring the director himself and Silvio Muccino. Muccino had worked with Verdone in the previous year on the big hit, Manuale D’Amore, and the younger brother of director Gabriele Muccino had really proven himself a good choice for a rom-com.
Il Mio Miglior Nemico is little more complicated than your average rom-com (more rom-com/drama), with Verdone playing Achille, the manager of a big hotel chain owned by his wife and brother-in-law. Achille, the son of a doorman, had made a good marriage and then worked hard to live up to the position that it afforded him, enjoying “the good life” with a beautiful home and family.
A wandering eye, a stolen computer, and a series of unfortunate events brings Achille’s world crashing down on him and his new worst enemy Orfeo, played by Muccino, dedicates his life to ruining Achiile’s. Caught in the middle; Cecilia, Achille’s daughter and Orfeo’s new girlfriend, already fraught with insecurity and indecision, is completely thrown over the edge by the chaos, and she takes off.
Il Mio Miglior Nemico is the best kind of romantic comedy, with real people, their real human frailties, and real problems. Verdone said at the screening that he can’t make a comedy without reality, and though his films are always full of slapstick comedy and silly situations, there is a vein of truth to this film that provokes empathy for the cheating husband and the reckless young man. Verdone’s comedy is a multi-layered plot with three-dimensional characters and authentic obstacles to their happiness.
This, plus Verdone’s dependable hilarity playing his usual melancholy hard luck guy, makes a movie that Americans would have loved had it been exported. My only complaint; it’s a little too long, and when Verdone mentioned that he’d been unhappy that 18 minutes had been cut from the original, I wondered if the movie couldn’t have benefited from even more editing.
Still, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s sweet, and it’s very entertaining. And I got to watch it with Carlo Verdone.