Released to some acclaim in Italy in 2002,
this sentimental drama finally arrives on these shores to serve a season of
Italian films at the Riverside Studios and does nothing to reverse the current
negative view of Italian cinema. Eugenio (Giancarlo Giannini) is a middle-aged
man with Down’s syndrome whose self-sufficiency amazes his friends and family.
Not only does he cook for himself and keep a clean house, but he even
volunteers at a local hospital! What a hero! And disabled too! Surprise,
surprise: it’s Eugenio who has something to teach us all about life…
Eugenio strikes up a friendship with a mute
young woman, Laura (Chiara de Bonis), who is recovering from a serious car
accident and who, thanks to various script convolutions, finally allows Eugenio
to reconnect with a love from his childhood. Copious flashbacks and whimsical
music drive along this soppy affair, and Giannini roots his performance in a
demented Cheshire grin through which you expect him to mouth the words ‘Give me
a gong’ (and, lo, the Italians did just that). For chronic melancholics and
serial Kleenex-abusers only.