La Vita e Bella is directed by Roberto Benigni. It was also written by Roberto Benigni and stars Roberto Benigni. Now for American audiences this usually flashes several warning signs -- first and foremost that the film will be almost 3 hours because the writer tends to fall in love with his words, the director with beautiful moments he captured and the star with his well lit face. Mercifully this was not the case here - barely over an hour and a half. Benigni is a delightful comedian -- a bit of Chaplin's grace and a bit of Groucho Marx shenanigans with a dash of Jim Carrey's facial fluidity thrown in. But a little goes a long way and while they are some wonderful moments and it was oh so refreshing to hear out loud laughter in the Palais theater, there were grumblings afterwards of people who evidently laughed while watching but were irked with themselves afterwards. And while I liked much of what I saw, I can't be depended upon for the nuances because only after the fact did I realize that the Palais screening was with the French subtitles and the film with the English subtitles was being shown in a different theater. I guess I was a little more tired than I thought I was because I failed to read to the end of the schedule -- a mistake I will not make at the screening of tomorrow morning's Italian film.
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