by Roderick Conway Morris

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Il Romanzo di Un Giovane Povero

By Roderick Conway Morris
VENICE 29 September 1995


Directed by Ettore Scola.Italy.

Octave Feuillet's popular novel 'Roman d'un Jeune Pauvre' (1858) has already inspired seven films, but Scola has pluckily rocketed a free version of the tale into present-day, petit-bourgeois suburban Rome. Vicenzo is an owlish, slightly oddball graduate living with his widowed mother. One night he meets his dapper, retired, apartment-block neighbor, Signor Bartoloni (Alberto Sordi), and goes off for a drink with him. Bartoloni is being tormented by hisbullyingwife and offers Vincenzo a tidy sum for bumping her off so he can pursue his dream of marrying a buxom young local shopkeeper. An intoxicated Vincenzo jokingly agrees -- on condition that Bartoloni in turn kills the graduate's nagging mother -- and events spiral out of control. The social setting of Scola's drama is thoroughly convincing and the script is shot through with sharp humor.

First published: International Herald Tribune

© Roderick Conway Morris 1975-2024