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Monday, October 5, 2015

Not your average love story- but maybe it is

Update May 23, 2016

Io e lei is headed to two North American film festivals and will be shown on the following dates:

Open Roads: New Italian Cinema at Lincoln Center
Thursday, June 2 at 6:00 followed by Q&A with director Maria Sole Tognazzi
Tuesday, June 7 at 1:30
Buy Tickets

Canada's Italian Contemporary Film Festival
June 10 @ 9:30pm TIFF - Toronto
June 14 @ 7:00pm Cinematheque Quebecois - Montreal
June 14 @ 5:00pm Cinema Cartier - Quebec City
Buy Tickets

With three high-profile Italian releases, Maria Sole Tognazzi's latest film, Io e lei took top spot at Italy's box office over the weekend, grossing a whopping 700,000 euros.

Io e lei is the story of two women in a relationship together, a relationship that is tumultuous at times and carefree at others. Margherita Buy and Sabrina Ferilli portray lovers, Federica and Marina in a way that puts love first and the fact that it's a same-sex relationship second. The two actresses have made the rounds all over Italian television answering questions relating to gay and lesbian relationships. But when I saw the film, that element was clearly secondary to the love and affection the two feel for each other. Perhaps Ferilli's description in an interview with Italian media best sums it-  a story about sentimentality rather than homosexuality.

Federica and Marina experience the myriad of emotions anyone feels while in a relationship and after it's over. Although they are happy together, they face the same challenges and obstacles that everyone faces whether they are heterosexual or homosexual- insecurity, fear of abandonment, envy.. that whole dark side that comes with loving someone.

Although the film is being called a comedy, I really didn't feel at all like I was watching a comedy. Perhaps something was lost in translation for me, but I really felt sadness for the characters- sadness for Buy's character trying to overcome her shame of being in a relationship with a woman, as it was her first time, and sadness for Ferilli's character in dealing with the consequences of that shame. The film seemed more like a drama with comedy relief because while the characters were riding a rollarcoaster of emotions, the writers definitely managed to slip in some hilarious moments, taking full advantage of actor Ennio Fantastichini's limitless talent for comedy.

Director Tognazzi with her stars Buy and Ferilli at the Rome premiere
The casting for Io e lei was impeccable. Each character, whether supporting or leading fit perfectly into their role. I enjoyed the closing scene which showed some shameless male bonding and one last laugh for the road. This film will undoubedtly cross Italian borders and I imagine it will do great in the United States. Maria Sole Tognazzi along with her team of talented writers struck the right chord in balancing a serious, relevant social topic with a simple love story that really has nothing to do with gender. For me, that is the aspect I appreciate most about this film.

Watch the trailer..

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