The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, May 17-23

nyc repertory cinema-divorce italian style-mastroianni

Divorce Italian Style (1961)
Directed by Pietro Germi
Germi’s hilarious satire jabs at Catholic hypocrisy and male chauvinism, particularly within Sicilian society. Germi’s comedy of manners, whose title gave its name to the whole commedia all’italiana genre, stars Marcello Mastroianni as a middle-aged aristocrat who lusts after his first cousin. Obvious moral concerns regarding incest aside, Ferdinando is also married to a smothering wife (Daniela Rocca). Well aware that divorce is illegal in Italy, the impoverished baron hatches an intricate plan to tempt his wife to cheat on him with the local priest’s nephew. This way, he can murder them with some questionable legal justification. Needless to say, Ferdinando’s plan proves not to be as simple as imagined. Despite the corruption, Germi allows some room for us to sympathize with these depraved characters. Mastroianni has the extraordinary ability to win us over with his familiar charisma and devilish charm. The ease in which he has casually carried his roles as womanizers, antiheroes, and bourgeois misfits is matched only by his instinctive grace, style and elegance. Alejandro Veciana (May 19, 7pm; May 28, 1pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Mastroianni retrospective)

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