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Marriage Italian-Style

Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni were in many ways like the screwball comedy teams of thirties Hollywood, irascibly antagonistic and inherently romantic. But Loren and MM were brilliant in a very particular way: they forced each other to be human, or, in Mastroianni's case, to at least turn his face from the screen when he couldn't be. That studied Mastroianni gesture is the curious "happy" end of this De Sica film that has been miscast as a comedic sequel to Divorce-Italian Style but whose title actually rings with a chuckling irony and perennial tragedy of Italian life. It is indeed a portrait of marital relations, held in high relief in a couple who are not married. The film is Loren's tour-de-force-in the space of two hours she goes from a wide-eyed teenage waif turned prostitute to the forty-year-old, elegantly used-up mistress of Mastroianni's perfectly realized cad. Set in Naples, the film is fast paced, filled with conniving humanity and bitter passion and yes, romance, Italian style. (JB)

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