Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"The Trip To Italy," Directed By Michael Winterbottom

In "The Trip To Italy," directed by Michael Winterbottom, British actors Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan play themselves on assignment for The Observer driving on the beautiful Italian coast, stopping at charming hotels and eating in top restaurants in order to write reviews of regional cuisine. During this movie ostensibly about male-bonding, the two allude to mid-life crises. Rob, married, sleeps with a woman he meets during their travels and wonders whether to pursue her further. Steve (whose dry wit was put to better purpose in "Philomena," reviewed here), divorced, meets up with his son and, in the movie's most poignant scene, tries to persuade him to stay at his home more frequently. The duo also visit landmarks associated with Romantic poets Shelley and Byron and allude to verses about mortality in their work, a theme reinforced with a visit to a crypt. At the same time, the two engage in endless banter, one-upmanship, and imitations of other actors, including Michael Caine, Hugh Grant, Sean Connery and Robert De Niro. Perhaps this behavior covers up more troubling inner currents; regardless, the constant schtick takes over the movie to an annoying degree, and these inner currents are not explored in any depth. What could have been a witty and moving film is ultimately unfocused and empty.

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