“Loneliness, inability to communicate—that stuff’s all the rage now,” says motormouthed Bruno (Vittorio Gassman, on fire), behind the wheel of his Lancia Aurelia. Dino Risi’s lightning-fast Italian comedy won’t ever be confused for a mood piece. (Bruno’s verdict on Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Eclisse: “Had a nice nap.”) Knowingly situated outside the art house, Il Sorpasso still feels unmissable: a flourish of the zany commedia all’italiana that eventually fell out of style.
Then again, you’ll recognize every road movie from Sideways to Borat and The Hangover in this impulsive summer drive—a quest for fun. In their own obnoxious way, Bruno and his unwitting student sidekick, Roberto (Jean-Louis Trintignant, stunningly youthful), have come to exert a colossal influence on modern-day movies. It’s a film that leavens the cruising and carousing with a fair share of internal reflection. Yes, the frame is filled with the era’s bikini-clad pulchritude, but the fuel here is primo neurosis.
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