Luca and Gustav are a yin and yang couple living in Rome; Luca, a southern Italian, loves and romanticizes his country and Gustav, an Italian from the north who grew up in the German-speaking part of Italy, is ready to give up on it.
Since an apartment in Berlin would cost a third what it does in Rome, and since they’ve been evicted from their place in Rome anyway, they’re making a move, but to where? Luca talks Gustav into taking one more look at Italy before they leave it.
In a vintage Fiat 500 they start out, covering the country north to south and back again, exploring the state of Italy’s icons. Some of what they find is funny, and some is just depressing.
A word of advice: If you prefer your view of Italy rose-colored and don’t really want to know why you shouldn’t be eating the Slow Food tomatoes, you should probably skip this documentary. But if you want to find out if Luca and Gustav stay or go, you’ll have to watch.
It’s well done and most likely fair, but severe, and I can’t help thinking that no country could be deemed acceptable under the microscope these two have used. As a priest in Puglia says at the end of the film, “A tree that falls in a forest makes more noise than a tree that grows.” Surely another movie could be made that makes the case that you’d be crazy to leave Italy.
In the end, Luca mentions a T-shirt he saw someone wearing that said “Life Is Too Short Not To Be Italian”, and he says, “I didn’t understand it, but I liked it.” I think I get it, but I don’t live there, so maybe I really don’t.
Italy: Love it or Leave it, from Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi is 75 minutes and you can watch it on Vudu or: