English Title: Bread and Tulips
Original title: Pane e tulipani
Country: Italy, Switzerland
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director: Silvio Soldini
Music: Giovanni Venosta
Cinematography: Luca Bigami
An Oscar BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM nominee, 9 times David di Donatello Awards winner, an exceptional case of home run. Silvio Soldini’s overwhelmingly heartfelt crowd-pleaser is about an Italian woman’s awakening realisation of the prospect that she might reap a new romance and start a new life in her middle-age, plus, it is in Venice!
Rosalba (Maglietta) is an average middle-class housewife from Pescara, only she is all fingers and thumbs in some measure, during a group trip with her family, her clumsiness incidentally results in her being left alone in a highway café, clearly her husband Mimmo (Catania) and their two sons take no notice of her absence in the first place. Later after being scolded by an exasperated Mimmo and commanded to wait in situ for the bus to return and pick her up, a disgruntled Rosalba decides to hitchhike back to home instead of continuing the trip, and en route to Pescara, realising that she has never been to Venice, she makes an impulsive decision to visit Venice, which will change her life forever, and for the better!
A planned overnight stay unsurprisingly extends into a prolonged sojourn, Rosalba finds a job as a helper for the local florist Fermo (Andreasi), and camps out in the apartment of a recluse Fernando (Ganz), an Icelandic waiter she meets in the restaurant. Unbeknown to her, a reticent Fernando is actually planning a suicide when Rosalba effects an entrance into his miserable life, later it will reveal that he is taking care of his grandson and the latter’s mother Adele (Lepore), whom his son deserted long time ago.
While Rosalba luxuriates in her adventure in Venice, at home, a fuming Mimmo is desperate to know her whereabout (although their two adolescent sons are quite easy with their mother’s unusual vacation), he hires an inept and overweight plumber Costantino (Battiston) who is applying for a job in his company, as a private detective to look for Rosalba in Venice. Little had he known, unexpected fondness will be God’s divine design, spontaneously germinate between Costantino and Grazia (Massironi), a masseuse living next door to Fernando and Rosalba’s new best friend, who is so down on her luck in relationships and also in critical need of a plumber in her life.
Of course, a nagging guilty conscience of shirking from her duty both as a wife and a mother has been duly interrupts Rosalba’s otherwise perfect holiday in Venice by the mechanics of her own imaginations, but Soldini renders the intrusions with such a light and comedic touch, Rosalba will practically become accustomed to it in no time. As plain as day, Mimmo is not a qualified husband for her, he can no longer appreciate her earthy beauty and their communication has been shut down for too long. So what the exotic Fernando brings to her life is something more wholesome, more sincere, and vice versa, she picks up her childhood hobby, the accordion, and he brings her to dancehall, together, they celebrate his grandson’s birthday in the Floating City, what’s more one can hanker for? Finally, albeit a predictable due date of her getaway, a new page of her life has already been turned, at any rate, a lady must have a little patience to wait for her Prince Charming to take his action.
Unbridled from the traditional view of family and responsibility, BREAD AND TULIPS is an encouraging but fantasised fable can hit hard to those who are bogged down in their middle-life crises, and aspiring to breathe some fresh air, even just for two hours, on top of that, it doesn’t reek of cheesiness and schmaltz when you replay it in mind after the show, mostly by virtue of a genial Licia Maglietta in her unsentimental and non-dramatic representation of a character could easily go overboard with all the quixotic bells and whistles around her.