When I met Italy’s top actress Margherita Buy at last year’s Venice Film Festival and told her how much I still love the her 1992 Maledetto Il Giorno Che T’ho Incontrato (Damned The Day I Met You with Carlo Verdone) she told me she doesn’t do comedies as often because they have to be well written “or otherwise it’s better not to do them”.
So that’s why she decided to to take matters into her own hands and collaborate with screenwriters Doriana Leondeff and Francesca Manieri to make Nemiche Per La Pelle (Best Enemies Forever). Along with director Luca Lucini and co-star Claudia Gerini, this is a literal dream team of Italian cinema. With Buy, who has won more Best Actress awards than anyone including Sophia Loren, Claudia Gerini, on her game as ever at 45, and the handsome Giampaolo Morelli, the cast is on spot for a hit comedy.
Doriana Leondeff happens to be my favorite screenwriter (Pane e Tulipani, for one!), Francesca Manieri brought us Veloce Come Il Vento, Vergine Giurata, and a whole slew of other award-winning films, and Buy herself is credited as a screenwriter.
Throw in Lucini, who directed one of my favorite rom-coms of all time, L’Uomo Perfetto, and cute kid actor Jasper Cabal and you’ve got the perfect recipe for success; Nemiche Per Le Pelle is a pretty darned adorable comedy.
The story itself is full of holes.
When Paolo (Stefano Santospago) suddenly drops dead he leaves a wife (Gerini) and an ex-wife (Buy), sworn enemies, and he also leaves a surprise, a 9-year-old son. His dying request was for the Gerini and Buy to bury the hatchet and raise the boy, whose mother was had also passed away.
To enjoy Nemiche Per Le Pelle (and you will!), you have to just let go of the melodrama around the poor little orphan’s hard-knock life and accept the premise. Also, given the absolutely hateful and selfish nature of Gerini’s character and the self-absorbed and eccentric nature of Buy’s, the dearly departed Paolo had to have been some kind of evil genius to hook the two women up as co-parents.
But the little boy is oh-so-sweet (and funny), and Buy and Gerini are hilarious, figuring out what to do with a little kid living in their houses, and then sneaking around at night breaking into an orphanage when they realize they can’t live without him. Their transition from enemies to frienemies is actually pretty organic and believable. (Oh c’mon, this is not a spoiler. What did you expect would happen in a comedy about an adorable orphan?)