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Benedetta follia: Between the past and the present with Carlo Verdone

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- The Italian director's latest film is released in his country and tells the story of love in the era of dating apps, exploring new territories, while also giving a nod to some of his past comedies

Benedetta follia: Between the past and the present with Carlo Verdone
Carlo Verdone and Ilenia Pastorelli in Benedetta follia

After an all-male film (L’abbiamo fatta grossa [+see also:
trailer
making of
film profile
]
, in collaboration with Antonio Albanese) Carlo Verdone returns to star in his new comedy, Benedetta follia (lit. "Blessed Madness"), alongside Ilenia Pastorelli, the revelatory actress from They Call Me Jeeg [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
film focus
interview: Gabriele Mainetti
film profile
]
. The Roman actor and director celebrates his 40-year career with a film – his 26th to be exact – that embraces situations that are close to his heart (the bewilderment of a middle-aged man abandoned by his wife, encounters with young women who open up new horizons, etc.), while also leading him into a new and somewhat surreal territory, thanks to his collaboration on the screenplay with Nicola Guaglianone (They call me Jeeg, Indivisible [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Edoardo de Angelis
film profile
]
, Suburra) and cartoonist-illustrator Menotti (co-writer of Gabriele Mainetti’s film phenomenon). Along with this new territory come some inevitable references to the cult characters of his previous films, in particular the bandana-wearing motorcyclist in Troppo forte (1986), representing a symbol of a wild and lamented youth.

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In fact, Benedetta follia begins with a fun trailer sequence in which we follow a motorbike as it snakes around one hairpin bend after the next. Cut to twenty-five years later and Guglielmo (Verdone) and Lidia (Lucrezia Lante della Rovere) are celebrating their silver wedding anniversary. The evening, however, ends with the wife’s abandonment of her husband, following the shocking revelation that she’s long been in love with another woman. It just so happens that this other woman is the sales assistant at Guglielmo’s religious clothing shop. And so, in addition to finding himself single and depressed, Guglielmo must also find a new co-worker, too. Among the potential applicants, the most improbable candidate ultimately comes out on top, Luna (Pastorelli): a rowdy suburbanite and skilled saleswoman, with a dark past and excellent knowledge of dating apps.

The film’s most exhilarating moments revolve around the blind dates that Luna sets up for William in order to cheer him up and to help him move on from his beloved wife. Between an alcoholic, a hypochondriac and an erotomaniac (brought to life respectively by Elisa Di Eusanio, Paola Minaccioni and Francesca Manzini) each date turns out to be more embarrassing than the last, although less so is his casual date with Ornella (Maria Pia Calzone), the nurse at the A&E department where Guglielmo will end up, against his will, on more than one occasion...

With the exception of a few twists and turns, the plot develops fairly predictably and Gaglianone-Menotti's touch, in addition to being evident in some of the film’s more trippy moments (see the dreamlike scene choreographed by Luca Tommassini of X Factor fame, very reminiscent of The Great Lebowski), seems to push the film a little more towards farce, with situations that are somewhat reminiscent of the cinepanettone – risking the film’s credibility (the erotic game with the phone, the phone call with the cardinal...) – as well as some fairly simplistic jokes, especially those uttered by Pastorelli. It must also be said that the reflective moments hidden among the comedic situations that we have become accustomed to in Verdone’s films in recent years are somewhat lacking, such as the missionary suffering a crisis of faith in Io, loro e Lara [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
film profile
]
, the disgraced and divorced fathers in Posti in piedi in paradiso [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
or thedifficult father-son relationship in Sotto una buona stella [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
. A light-hearted, mellow, and reassuring Verdone, who has perhaps forgotten to add any real substance to this story, but who nevertheless manages to steal a few laughs thanks to his incredible comedic talent.

Produced by Aurelio and Luigi De Laurentiis, Benedetta follia comes out in Italian cinemas today, 11 January, with Filmauro distributing 750 copies nationwide.

(Translated from Italian)

See also

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