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MASTROIANNI AS A BORING FATHER OF 5

By VINCENT CANBY
The New York Times, 5/31/91


 

It can be said of Giuseppe Tornatore's "Everybody's Fine" ("Stanno Tutti Bene") that it's the film that everybody who disliked his sentimental "Cinema Paradiso" was afraid he could make if he tried hard enough. It opens today at the Lincoln Plaza.

The new movie stars Marcello Mastroianni as Matteo Scuro, a willfully boring old man who sets out from his home in Sicily to visit each of his five beloved children now living in Italy. To the astonishment of only Matteo, as he dodders slowly up the boot of Italy, each child turns out to be a
failure of one degree or another.

Mr. Mastroianni, that icon of the Italian cinema, is less bad than dim. His performance is obscured by some dreadful hairpieces and a pair of glasses whose lenses look as if theywere chopped off the bottoms of two Coca-Cola bottles.

The glasses give his eyes the appearance of huge brown polka dots, and they have, I'm afraid, a point to make: Matteo has seen all, but steadfastly refuses to understand anything about his children. Nothing about the old man is credible, including his mustache.

He has two character traits intended to be endearing. He talks in long, information-filled paragraphs to his off-screen wife. When talking to someone clearly visible, he insists that the other person ask him why he believes this or that to be true.

The children are as dim as their dad, including one son, a musician, who plays the bass drum with a symphony orchestra, and a daughter who hides the fact that she has a child born out of wedlock.

The only halfway decent performances in the film are given by Michele Morgan, who plays a still magnificently beautiful woman in her seventies, and Salvatore (Toto) Cascio, who overplayed the precocious little boy in "Cinema Paradiso." He appears here as one of Matteo's sons as a child. Neither Miss Morgan nor Mr. Cascio has much to do, but they seem to be alive and well. The others are zombies.

From time to time Mr. Tornatore stops everything to pay tribute to the films of Federico Fellini, which, like old Matteo and his children, he has obviously seen without comprehending.

One sequence is set in Rimini, Mr. Fellini's birthplace and the setting for "I Vitelloni." There are also several startling visual effects that, in a Fellini film, might be showstoppers. In this dreary landscape they look as out of place as billboards in a desert.

SURPRISINGLY, "EVERYBODY'S FINE" IS BEING REMADE WITH ROBERT DE NIRO IN THE MASTROIANNI ROLE. CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT MORE REMAKES. --Guy Flatley