Monday, September 9, 2013

TIFF 2013: Those Happy Years

Come to Papa .... 
Those Happy Years (Anni Felici) (Italy, 2013) directed Daniele Luchetti100 minutes, Scotiabank 4, 4.15p

Set in the swinging seventies of modern Italy, Guido (Kim Rossi Stuart) is a self-centred visual and performance artist who, although married to the lovely Serena (Micaela Ramazzottiwith whom he has two sons, manages to have the energy to entertain a number of attractive young women in his studio between bouts of making art. Guido is extremely handsome, egotistical, and somewhat talented, but frustrated in his artistic and commercial ambitions. Serena is on the periphery, a beautiful if frustrated housewife, who is completely emotionally invested in her husband and children. 

Much of the film is seen through the eyes of the two boys who are particularly precocious and pretty referring to mama and papa by their first names and listening to frank discussions regarding their parents' fidelity (or lack thereof).

With the assistance of Helke, a gallery owner and friend of Guido's, Guido receives an important commission for an art show in Milan. The show fails to impress the art critics although Guido hides this from Serena when he returns home. 

Serena, facing her own raised consciousness, take the children to a "feminist retreat" in France at Helke's invitation. In France, Serena finds more than tea and sympathy in the arms of Helke and her new emotional involvement causes a schism in the family that Guido cannot mend. 

Based on the director Luchetti's early childhood with two passionate, volatile parents - his recreation of this difficult time charms the viewer. The acting between the two leads is wonderful - intense, passionate, convincing - and the images particularly beautiful. Italy, sexual tension between two attractive leads, large loving Italian families, beautiful children, art ... what more do you want? 

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