Although it swept the Italian Oscars last year, Silvio Soldini's Bread and Tulips seems aimed at an international market. Luckily, it scores a bull's-eye. Starring Licia Maglietta as a fortysomething mother of two who gets left behind on a family vacation and winds up in Venice, this wistful comedy will have other fortysomething mothers reaching for both their hankies and their travel agents' phone numbers. When the movie opens, Maglietta's Rosalba is wearing orange tennis shoes, an orange visor and burgundy leggings ' the very latest in trashy Euro-tourist wear. By the end, she's negotiating Venice's maze of streets and canals in a simple shift, her child-bearing hips rocking seductively from side to side. Venice has liberated her inner bohemian.
Rosalba's husband finally sends someone to find her ' a plumber/private detective who looks like Michael Moore. But most of the movie is devoted to Rosalba's Venetian friends: the suicidal waiter (Bruno Ganz, underplaying delightfully) who offers her a place to stay, the anarchist flower-shop owner (Antonio Catania, overplaying delightfully) who offers her a job, and the holistic beautician and masseuse (Marina Massironi, also delightful) who lives down the hall. Bread and Tulips could be said to slather on the charm, but everything is kept in check by Maglietta's gentle, relaxed performance. Once she's ensconced in her Venetian hideaway, Rosalba isn't in any hurry to go back home. And the movie doesn't seem in much of a hurry either.
Not a bad way to while away a couple of hours.