May 3, 2005


"Divorce Italian Style" is finally out on DVD -- in a fancy Criterion edition. If you're one of those people like me who think Marcello Mastroianni is one of the funniest actors ever, you've got to get this one.
Filled with disgust for his hirsute, clinging wife (Daniela Rocca) and fired with lust for his 16-year-old cousin (Stefania Sandrelli), he begins to plot the murder of his unwanted spouse - the only way to get rid of her in pre-divorce Italy.

The baron ought to be repellent, but he quickly gathers the audience on his side, as an unlikely agent for freedom in a repressive, ossified society. Mastroianni depicts CefalĂș's breakthrough, in one of the virtuosic scenes of his career, by repeating the world "basta" approximately two dozen times, each with a different inflection, rising from weak self-pity to firm resolution.

Maybe you can shoehorn this one onto your list of law-related movies: why divorce needs to be legal (for you family law types), how criminal law interacts with the culture (for you "law in action" types), how the law serves the interest of males (for you feminists), etc.

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