Film Review: THE GODDESS OF FORTUNE [LA DEA FORTUNA] (directed by Ferzan Özpetek)

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by Barry Creyton on September 6, 2020

in Film


Two standout movies in this year’s Frameline Festival contemplate, each in its own way, men suffering mid-life crises.

One, from Ireland, is the contemplative Rialto (review here). This one, The Goddess of Fortune from Italy, is an endearing comedy/drama set in Rome. Diverging from his Antonioni-like mystery of Red Istanbul, and the noirish thriller Naples in Veils, director Ferzan Özpetek demonstrates his versatility of genre with unambiguous story-telling. Though what seems, on the surface, to be a conventional piece about a relationship in ruins, becomes a gripping drama in which truth and meaning evolve from crisis.

Arturo (Stefano Accorsi) and Alessandro (Edoardo Leo) have been together for fifteen years. As they both near fifty, passion is a thing of the past and the two open their relationship sexually, each invoking the jealousy of the other. Allesandro’s old girlfriend Annamaria (Jasmine Trinca), leaves her two young children in their custody while she is hospitalized for medical examinations. The two men live in a happy community of neighbors and friends who see the presence of the two children as a positive step in strengthening the fractured relationship, but in fact, the children inadvertently hasten the breakdown.

Edoardo Leo, known in Italy for many diverse film roles (and a philosophy and literature graduate), here plays a plumber, self-assured in his homosexuality, his rough exterior hiding a sensitivity which will be tested when the relationship reaches breaking point. Stefano Accorsi, a well known theatre actor before transitioning to film, is the other half of the troubled duo, the polar opposite of his partner — a failed academic who yearns for a career as a serious writer. Both actors bring detail and heartbreaking truth to the characters.

In lesser hands, this could become domestic melodrama, but with believable characters, subtle performances, a well-constructed screenplay (Gianni Romoli, Silvia Ranfagni & Özpetek), a deceptive lightness of cinematic touch (Gian Filippo Corticelli), Özpetek molds his story of middle-age crisis into something gripping and ultimately, extremely entertaining.

One of the best Italian movies of 2019.

stills courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Italy

The Goddess of Fortune (La dea fortuna)
Warner Bros. Pictures Italy
originally released in Italy on December 19, 2019
Italy | 118 minutes
in Italian with English Subtitles

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