Days and Clouds: More Problems From Italy

Elsa (Margherita Buy) and Michele (Antonio Albanese) have a problem: They're a married couple in a middlebrow arthouse movie. When Elsa gets her art doctorate, Michele's two-part present is a party and the announcement that he lost his job months ago. A little economic paring-down turns into selling the house and moving to lower-middle-class hell. Michele freaks out in time-honored fashion: yelling too loud in a restaurant at his wife, slapping his daughter, and crying in the fetal position in the shower. Silvio Soldini's Days and Clouds is watery on the economics of it all—Michele was punished for refusing to compromise his principles and outsource boat production, or because his ideas never made any money, or something—and without grounding in specific causes and effects, the film is just another dreary wallow in self-pity. Falling down a social class and abandoning your entire lifestyle sucks; still, this particular freelancer has trouble working up too much sympathy for a couple selling a Genoa loft and moving into a solid if blockish apartment. The search for a better recent movie about unemployment and self-effacement than Laurent Cantet's 2001 Time Out continues.

 
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