CINEMA ITALIAN STYLE | Three comedies to see during week-long festival at SIFF

At War for Love

“At War for Love” is ostensibly focused on one key player: Arturo has enlisted in the American army in World War II as a way to get a ticket to Sicily, where he can ask his lady love’s father for her hand in marriage (the only way to cancel her engagement to a mob boss’ son).

But luckily for all of us, it takes a village to win a war.

The black comedy follows Arturo on his mission to Sicily, introducing us along the way to a family in town surviving life during wartime, a blind man and his compatriate who are the town’s only defense system, other military members who are fighting for love of their country, and (of course) the local mob boss tasked with assisting the Americans and killing Arturo so he can’t return to his gal back home.

It’s a wacky and effective melding of drama and comedy (with a heavy favor towards laughs), that manages to find hope in every punchline. It expertly sets up pins and knocks them down (“Lieutenant, if people found out I didn’t care what people think...what would people think of me?”), a full on comedy of errors that focuses on one of the biggest machines of errors: The military industrial complex.

‘At War for Love,’ screens Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., with the opening night party follow at 9 p.m.

Wife & Husband

Body swap movies are familiar enough as to have their own genre tropes, these days. But the husband and wife remains an unusual pairing.

And ten years into their relationship, it may be just what Andrea and Sofia need. After years of him pouring his heart and money into his work researching telepathy, and her feeling torn between her television producing job and being a mother, their dynamic is at a standstill. That is, until Andrea’s machine leaves their minds seemingly irreversibly swapped.

“Husband and Wife” stays on the target, providing some commentary on how relationships can fall apart (and be put back together) with a better understanding of a partner and the gender dynamics at work in a heterosexual relationship. While it doesn’t seem to have time to fully explore the profundity of all its ideas, its ending manages to push the body swap trope just a little bit further than it has ever been. It goes bigger than most body switch movies usually goes, and—bolstered by strong performances—leaves its audience with plenty to ponder.

‘Husband and Wife,’ screens Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 9:30 p.m. Prior to the Nov. 12 screening, Chateau Ste. Michelle will present a special half-hour tasting event.

Let Yourself Go!

When you hear the logline of “Let Yourself Go!” it sounds like a cliche: Stodgy psychologist Elia is told by a doctor to get more exercise, and finds himself bonding unexpectedly with his physical trainer Claudia who has a “cult of physique but clearly not of mind.”
But the movie is actually an unexpectedly delightful affair; a sweet comedy built on an odd couple scenario. It’s deeply interested in treating these archetypes with depth and sincerity, mining comedy from a bit of embarrassment, but also from affection for its leads.

It’s the rare movie where the strange bedfellows grow each other lives in meaningful ways. It’s careful and clever in how it nudges them each forward, and how they prop each other up. And in the end everybody (including the audience) wins.

‘Let Yourself Go!,’ screens Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. Screenwriter Francesco Bruni is scheduled to attend.