Belli Ciao (Italian Film Festival) – Film Review

Belli Ciao is a fish out of water buddy comedy starring the popular Italian comedy duo, Pio e Amedeo.

Friends since childhood Pio D’Antini and Amedeo Grieco (credited under their own names) always had their eyes set on bigger things. While Pio wished to be a success in the world of business, Amedeo aimed for a career in the medical field. Fate would take the two friends down different paths with Pio leaving their poor village of Sant’Agata di Puglia, Italy for the bright lights up in Milan.

Years later, Pio is a successful financial advisor and Amedeo remains in town to work in a health shop. Pio is called in by the mayor (Giorgio Colangeli) to assist in the issue of ‘brain drain’ caused by youth leaving for more successful careers abroad. The expanding of the town being an expensive proposition, a loan is quickly agreed upon with a hefty interest rate. Realising they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, Amedeo is sent to Milan to renegotiate a better deal for the town. Over 5 days, not only does Amadeo learn what things are like in the big city, but he reminds Pio of things he left behind.

Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of Pio e Amedeo before this movie. This may be because the two have had 8-year lull in between features with their last cinematic role in 2014. Despite this, these talented two have lost nothing in their comic timing or their chemistry, as I immediately found them a hilarious team. Co-writing Belli Ciao with director Gennaro Nunziante, Pio e Amedeo show a range of abilities as entertainers. Nether are afraid of being the straight man or the stooge depending on what the situation calls for. This particular style of comedy is something I’ve always appreciated in comedy groups.

Usually these culture clash movies lean one way or the other with a beatnik coming to the big city or a yuppie out in the sticks. But Belli Ciao bucks that trend by focusing on both scenarios equally. I find also that many Italian films focus on nostalgia for ‘the old country’ and that’s something Belli Ciao plays heavily on. The town of Sant’Agata di Puglia is shot beautifully, but so is the city of Milan. While Belli Ciao does parody the differences between north and south, the point is made that neither is ‘better’, they’re just different.

The humour of Belli Ciao can be extremely cheesy at times as can its plot, but I found that I actually enjoyed it. Despite featuring many in jokes on Italian culture and society, it is still very approachable to an outsider. The divide between rich and poor, social media, these things are universal. It may not be very intelligent satire, but it makes for an enjoyable film nonetheless.

Genuinely, I loved many of the minor characters and their particular quirks. The assistant Pio leaves in charge during an audit with the sole instruction of ‘be positive’ was a hilarious moment in the extremes it reaches. The mayor who talks relentlessly in Latin phases which even its fellow countrymen can’t understand was endearing also.

What makes Belli Ciao so positive is its story which doesn’t follow a rigid formula. Rather than provide the predictable ups and downs of an American comedy, this Italian film is 90 minutes of shameless fun. Belli Ciao, much to the film’s credit, is not interested in forced drama. It is simply a movie about two estranged best friends reconnecting the bond they had lost.

Although not particularly deep, Belli Ciao is still great fun. Pio e Amedeo bring the laughs in this feel-good film about the things we leave behind when looking forward.

Belli Ciao is screening in Australia as part of the Italian Film Festival which is on until October 19th.
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