Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Professor Brusci (Marcello Mastroianni) is a widower who has been alone for a long time. He has finally ordered his life in a way that is pleasing to him: his free time is divided between a chamber orchestra he plays with and his garden, and he works teaching Russian at a university in Rome. He is an ardent but genteel communist. When his four-year-old granddaughter is deposited into his care out of the blue, out of self-defense he teaches the girl how to fit into his mannered and polite household. His teaching gifts are challenged when the girl's unconventional mother arrives for a stay, but for a while at least he conjures them into fitting into the tranquility he prefers. Soon enough, however, the lure of revolutionary protests and strikes of 1977 draw the mother and child away, leaving the professor bereft.