Saturday, February 2, 2013

Come Undone (2010)

Director: Silvio Soldini                                   Writers: Silvio Soldini & Doriana Leondeff
Film Score: Giovanni Venosta                        Cinematography: Ramiro Civita
Starring: Alba Rohrwacher, Pierfrancesco Favino and Guiseppe Battison

Cosa voglio di più (Come Undone) is an interesting, if predictable, Italian film by writer/director Silvio Soldini. Since the French New Wave of the early sixties, it does what European films have been doing ever since and what Hollywood has never been able to fully recreate, a realistic version of human life--not overly dramatic and bombastic, but a natural sense of real life with real people and their realistic conflicts. The plot concerns a young insurance office accountant, Anna, and her rather overweight boyfriend Alessio. She pays the mortgage on the condo where they have lived together for a while. The film opens on the birth of her sister’s baby and that, of course, prompts the inevitable question of whether or not she and Alessio will have a child. Unfortunately, it’s that question that prompts a more fundamental one of whether or not she even wants to stay with Alessio long term.

The question is made even more pertinent when she feels drawn toward a slightly older man, Domenico, who was catering a retirement party for a woman in her office. The two of them meet again when he comes back to the office for his knife, and it sets her thinking about a different kind of life for herself. As her friend in the office presciently says, “I have a mortgage too. You can’t wait twenty years to have a life.” Anna screws up her courage and meets him for an evening rendezvous at her office, but it’s interrupted by a co-worker. It’s then that Dominic confesses that he is married with children and that they should call the whole thing off before it starts. Anna agrees, but by then it’s too late, and the two can’t stop thinking about each other.

There is a deft touch in both the directing and the screenplay. The first half of the film is entirely from Anna’s point of view, and then shifts back and forth between her and Dominic, and the editing is done in such a way as to convey the mood of both protagonists. The script has some obvious moments, such as the boring bedtime routine for the couple juxtaposed with her meetings with Dominic, but there are some subtle touches too. And when they finally consummate the affair, with inevitable results, it’s refreshingly devoid of the kind of Puritanical hand-wringing and overblown emotion involved in American films and television. Again, it’s real life, where people fall in and out of love, where people leave each other, have affairs, feel remorse and regret and, yes, the exhilaration of it all.

Alba Rohrwacher is great as Anna, torn between her desires and obligations and with a typical inability to make the final decision to dismantle her life. Pierfrancesco Favino is equally indecisive, but with far more reason to be so and with no prospect of making a decision any time soon. In the end, as many European films do, it leaves the viewer with a glimpse of a world of adults, rather than the American version of old people who act like children. For those who frequent European films it’s certainly nothing new, but as an escape from typical American fare, Come Undone is a nice change of pace.

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