Love Italian Style: Ode To Genoa and Romance in The Mouth of the Wolf


A collection of “small great stories,” in the words of its unobtrusive narrator, Pietro Marcello’s singular doc/fiction hybrid salutes the crumbling grandeur of the northern Italian seaport Genoa, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Foregrounded in this city symphony (which sometimes plays as a dirge) is the two-decade relationship between Enzo, a Sicilian toughie who’s spent most of his life in jail, and Mary, a matronly trannie who delights in recounting that the thug cried during Bambi. Sepia-toned archival footage intermittently reveals the town’s past industrial boom and recreational delights, as Enzo and Mary’s enduring romance is divulged through snippets of cassette recordings they exchanged during his last time in stir. Before the two appear together, in the film’s last third, Mary is often shown in silhouette, while Enzo staggers through the streets, nearly coming to blows at a bar with a pathetic pickpocket before Serge Gainsbourg on the jukebox restores everybody’s inebriated good mood. Sitting side by side as their four small dogs jump in and out of the frame, the couple relay how they met and the dreams they still share. “She and I are two dominators,” the impressively mustached, probably drunk or high Enzo says, when not flexing his muscles. The odd power of their love is matched by Marcello’s for the city in which they live.