Pupi Avati makes nostalgic films about middle-class and aristocratic Italians around the turn of the last century. The old-fashioned charm of Incantato derives less from its 1920s setting than from his steadfast belief in conventions of plot and character. Neri Marcoré stars as Nello, a self-effacing classics professor sent by his womanizing father (Giancarlo Giannini), tailor to the pope, to teach in Bologna and find a wife. There he meets Angela (Vanessa Incontrada), a beautiful society girl who was suddenly blinded; despite her wounded state, she toys with his affections. Nello’s lack of charisma poses problems for both his love life and this motion picture—his childlike innocence belongs to a different cinematic era. If you can suspend your disbelief regarding Nello’s naïveté, this film offers some quiet pleasures.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 14, 2004

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