AGES OF LOVE. Starring:Robert De Niro, Monica Bellucci, Riccardo Scamacio, Laura Chiatti, Carlo Verdone, Donatella Finocchiaro,Michele Placido, Emanule Propizio. Written and directed by:Giovanni Veronesi. Rated MA15+(Sex scenes). 124 minutes.
Giovanni Veronese’sromantic comedy Ages of Loveis aportmanteau filmcomprising three stories about the power of love, as experienced by three men of different ages.
In Youth, Roberto (Riccardo Scamarcio) is a confident young lawyerwho is sent by his firmto a small Tuscan town to resolve a property dispute.Roberto is engaged to Sara (Valeria Solarino), and is eager to return to the city. Instead, he succumbs to the parochial charm of the village, and is duped by some mischievous men into a tryst with the ‘Nightingale’, a beautiful and provocative woman (Laura Chiatti), who threatens to be his undoing.
Maturity is about Fabio (comedian Carlo Verdone), arespected, toupee-wearing anchor man on a television news channel. Fabio has been contentedly married for 25 years, but when he is seduced by an alluring, obsessive fan (Donatella Finocchiaro)his life spins out of control.
In Beyond, Adrian (Robert De Niro) is an American art history professor, living in Rome. Having survived both a painful divorce and a triple-bypass, Adrian is looking forward to a quietretirement. This is challenged when he is drawn ineluctably into the problematic life of Viola (Monica Bellucci), thekindly and voluptuousdaughter of his doorman and friend, Augusto (Michele Placido).
Narrated by Cupid (Emanuele Propizio)posing as a taxi driver, Ages of Love is the third film in Veronese’s series about love (The Manual of Love), and a very male-oriented ‘take’ on the subject. For Veronese’s men, lust orerotic love is a bolt from the blue (Eros’ arrow) that brings with it guilty pleasure, the threat of exposure, and a resort to deceit. Only De Niro’s Adrian, because of his charm, ageandself-knowledge (finely nuanced by De Niro), escapes from the film’s salacious moralising.
Ages of Love strives for sophistication about ‘matters of the heart’, but essentially these stories are Italian versions of a Feydeau bedroom farce. The most tedious is Youth, while the most enjoyable is Fabio’s slapstick tale, where the worsening state of the television star’s toupee becomes the yardstick of his mounting panic and consternation.
As a story, Beyond strains credulity, but the pleasure of watching De Niroin a light romance speaking Italian with Bellucci will be reward enough for many.
Jan Epstein is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.