Italy: Love It or Leave It Film Review (2011)

Italy, for all of its romantic and historic wonder, is a country that often seems to be masquerading as a third world country. This is a country, after all, whose recent Prime Minister resigned after a sex scandal (his umpteenth one) that would make a soap opera love triangle seem standard. Italy is a country thoroughly embracing the European debt crisis, and the unemployment rate in young adults is sky high. But despite all of this, Italy, is still a country that virtually every foreigner loves unto death.

Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi are looking at a crucial moment in their life. Most of their friends have departed from the country, and Gustav wants to move to Berlin. Luca still has his hearts set on his homeland, though — so the two get the classic Italian car, a Fiat 500, and set on a cross-country trip in the documentary Italy: Love It or Leave It.

 

Hofer and Ragazzi forgo the renaissance splendors of Florence and Rome, and head off to the real bastions of Italy — the northern part of the country in Milan and the southern portion of the country in Cambria — to find whether or not Italy is a country worth sticking around in. They interview people from all ages and all spectrums who are tirelessly working to correct many of Italy’s very public ills, from sexism in the media to support for the immigrant laborers that live in squalid conditions. Italy: Love It or Leave It is a tongue-in-cheek look at a country with very serious issues, and while the duo find themselves in the depths of government spending gone crazy in Sicily, they still aren’t willing to take the country to task over it. There isn’t much brought up in the film that really jabs at the heart of Italian culture — because to do that would be tearing at the hearts of Hofer and Ragazzi as well, and also brings up the ultimate issue with a scathing criticism of Italy: most Italians are just nice, hard-working (sometimes), honest individuals who believe in family, wine, and the goodness of the Earth.

The fact that the duo stay off the beaten path for the most part is the beauty of the docu-drama. Italy is a two headed beast, with a government in shambles, but whatever; they have the Ponte Vecchio and there are many memories made throughout life there. The romanticism of Italy stays surprisingly in check and alive through the film, and for anyone that has been to the country and loves it, Italy: Love It or Leave It won’t make you love it any less. If anything, it will make you chuckle more at how such a seemingly civilized society can live in such a crumbling, backwards fashion.

Directed by Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi

SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2012 SCREENINGS
June 3rd @ Noon, SIFF Cinema Uptown
June 5th @ 6:00pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown

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