The '20s. A liberal German professor and his family holiday uneasily in Mussolini's Italy. They are ejected from their hotel in case their son's cough is catching and fined when their little girl is seen naked on the beach. Lurking violence surfaces during a performance by the hypnotist Cipolla, who inflicts increasingly sinister humiliations on his spellbound audience. As Cipolla, Brandauer underplays conspicuously. As director, he aims for not-quite-naturalism and a tone more suggestive of Kafka than Thomas Mann, whose 1929 fable is here revised and elaborated. Peculiar enough to warrant a look, despite its intermittent heavy-handedness and the Euro-mix casting.