Bread & Tulips (2000)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Errors, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Jul 27, 2001 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - Switzerland, Italy  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

A kissing cousin of Lewis Gilbert's Shirley Valentine, Bread and Tulips is housewife revolt at its most passive, and romantic comedy at its most slight. As Rosalba (Licia Maglietta) becomes gradually unhinged from her existence as a disrespected mother and wife, the viewer senses her liberation without feeling the urge to celebrate it. This agreeable indifference points to an ingrained detachment that the film can't shake, even as it quickens the plodding pace and grows more enjoyably eccentric in the telling. Its strong suit is the flawed humanity of its central characters: the lonely restaurant owner with the extensive vocabulary, the new agey neighbor/ditzy masseuse, and the hapless plumber turned private eye (who is constantly hectored by the manic serenade of his mobile phone). The film's weakness, however, is what it does with them, or rather doesn't do, over the course of a lengthy yet surprisingly surface-level character study. Atmosphere and tone make up for some of this deficit, but Venice is not the vibrant character it could have been, either -- especially since it serves as a repository for all of Rosalba's deferred yearnings. Silvio Soldino's quiet film has the refreshing quality -- but also the lingering impact -- of a mild breeze.