Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2016 9:47 am 
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A boy gets two unlikely moms

In this broad comedy, a man dies, dividing his large estate between his two ex-wives, but they can share it only if they also share the care of his little illegitimate son. It's the material of simple farce, but from the start has the occasional good line, such as when real estate developer Fabiola (Claudia Gerini, by far the broader actress of the two) comments that her adversary Lucia (a typically restrained Margherita Buy)'s greater time with Paolo (12 years vs. 8) means nothing because one year with her is worth seven, as with dogs. The insult-trading goes only so far. Now comes the test: the kid they're saddled with,7-year-old "Chinese" Paolo, Jr. (Jaspar Cabal).

Well, the little Paolo is cute, but the abusive way he's treated by the equally careless and unqualified women isn't very pleasant or amusing, and the casual racism toward Asians (Fabiola's Filipino servants as well as little Paolo) would not be acceptable in a Hollywood movie. It's all in fun, of course; the political incorrectness is intentional and tongue-in-cheek. Lucia is a touchy-feely animal counselor devastated by the loss of her own canine, Gino, and saddled with a tiresome younger boyfriend, a pseudo-artist, Giacomo (Giacomo Morelli). She's useless in the everyday world, and can't even cook. Fabiola is a demonic boss who commands a small army of young male employees; she's particularly exploitative of an Asian one called Marco Chang, who's useful to her because of rich Chinese clients.

Things finally look up 45 minutes in surprisingly, with Fabiola (who's meaner than Lucia), when she calls upon Paolo Junior to be an interpreter (at age seven!) for some older Chinese buyers, and the kid gets to do some talking They grant him half the agent's 7;% of the sale. That night, he offers her his 3 1/2% if she'll just tell him a fairy tale at bedtime. Interestingly, though Fabiola has been more brutal with Paolo Junior, she's also interacted with him more, and given him a smart phone and a play station, gaining points.

Once the kid gets to play an active role (Jaspar Cabal is very good), things really look up. The filmmakers ought to have brought him in earlier, and toned down the nastiness at the outset, which is off-putting. And then, strangely, with 25 minutes to go, they leave the kid and we're stuck with the two eccentric dames. The twi actresses get a good rhythm going, but the material seems spread a bit thin at this point. Then Paolo Junior reappears, and things turn adorable again. A contemporary Italian comedy with a high cuteness count.

Best Enemies Forever/Nemiche per la pelle, 92 mins., was released theatrically in italy 14 Apr. 2016. Screened for this review as part of the SFFS's New Italian Cinema series, 16-20 Nov. 2016; special screening, Vogue Theatre, Wed., 9 p.m., 16 Nov.


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