The comedy of the year isn’t a joke.
It’s the Comedy of the Year according to the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists (Nastro D’Argento Best Comedy) and the foreign press (Italian Golden Globes, Best Comedy) and I’m not going to argue with them. Noi e la Giulia (The Giulia and us) deserves the accolades, but it isn’t laugh out loud, “rolling in the aisle” funny; in its own way it is inspirational, and a call to action for all of us who need to stand up and stand for something.
Written, directed by and starring Edoardo Leo, with Luca Argentero, Claudio Amendola, Claudio Buccirosso, Stefano Fresi and Anna Foglietta, it’s based on a book (Alfa Romeo 1300 and Other Miracles by Fabio Bartolomei) and is the story of three guys, their individual mid-life crisises, and a Giulia 1300 Alfa Romeo.
When Claudio, Diego and Fausto decide to go in on an “agroturismo” B&B (a sort of farm vacation) in Camorra country, maybe, if they’d stopped to think about why the previous owners had cleared out so quickly, they might have realized that this wasn’t such a great idea. When the Camorra shows up at their door and even the local cops are giving them the shakedown, they realize that they’ll never be free to conduct their own affairs. After a serious of improbable but completely understandable events they, with the help of some illegal immigrants, a pregnant girl and a Cammorista that they’ve kidnapped, decide to recoup their investment and get the heck out of there.
And with the help of a little elbow grease and an invented ghost story about the place, the B&B is a big hit. Such a shame they’ll all most likely be killed if they don’t abandon it.
When I ask Italian directors what they are doing differently now from the ones in the ’80s and ’90s there is one thing that they all say, one common thread, “We’re telling the truth about ourselves”, and in this slapstick-tinged farce, with people getting smacked in the face with shovels and gangsters enjoying Playstation while being held hostage, there is truth. This is what makes Noi e la Giulia the comedy of the year. This comedy is funny, but it’s not a joke, and it’s the kind that is making Italian comedy better all the time and more universal.