Directed by Ettore Scola
Italy-France | 110 minutes | 2001
Italian with English subtitles
Ettore Scola returns to the period and setting of A Special Day and the ensemble structure of The Family with Unfair Competition, a new poignant depiction of Italy under the rise of fascism in the late thirties as reflected through the experiences of two Roman retailers. Through the fresh and simple gaze of two children, from two families, the rather foolish adult world around them unfolds. Their fathers are two arch-rival shopkeepers, both of whom live with their families above their stores in the shadow of St Peter's dome. Umberto a gentile, is a tailor with an elegant wood-paneled shop, losing customers to Jewish neighbor Leone, who continues to expand the stock in his no-frills haberdashery emporium, overlapping with Umberto's wares and undercutting his prices. The families, nevertheless, are ridiculously similar. The two little boys are classmates and inseparable buddies, their elder brother and sister sweethearts. That is, until 1938 and the discriminatory "race laws" hurriedly passed in Italy. Suddenly Jewish professors can no longer teach, journalists, doctors, lawyers can no longer practice their professions, Jewish children no longer attend public school. Nor can Jewish families keep radios in their homes, or have "Aryan' domestic help, and soon they can no longer even run their own businesses.
Struck by the injustice and absurdity of these laws, the fierce competition between the Jewish notions seller and the tailor turns instead into an unusual friendship and solidarity as the two families, and their two little boys' companionship, are torn asunder by these events.
|Countries of Production
|Year of Presentation
|Italian with English subtitles
|Diego Abatantuono, Sergio Castellitto, Gérard Depardieu
Nominated for the European Film Award