95 min.



Synopsis: (aka Happiness Costs Nothing)

Mimmo Calopresti co-wrote, directed, and stars in this existential drama about an architect's midlife meltdown. Once a smug Master of the Universe with a successful business and loving wife, child, and mistress, Sergio's life gradually falls apart after a near-death experience. An abrasive insistence that he's through tolerating life's hypocrisies costs him his friends and family and a new, ill-starred love affairs completely levels him. Joey Ramone's glorious cover of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" is a recurring theme, and the use of the song isn't completely ironic as the architect negotiates his personal purgatory. He also contemplates his own mortality, sometimes with the help of a long-dead friend, which adds a touch of Wings of Desire to the drama. The film's greatest strength is Calopresti, who charms even during the architect's most obnoxious moments.

Production Notes:

Filming took place in Turin and Rome for nine weeks beginning on January 28, 2002.


Deborah Young, Variety:
Mimmo Calopresti, one of Italy’s most modernist directors in terms of subject and technique, asks, in this picture, where happiness is to be found today. The tormented characters of his earlier work are embodied by Calopresti himself playing a man going through a painful existential breakdown. Given the film’s abstract theme, the director perhaps makes an appropriate spokesman for the psychological, emotional and common-sense answers the film proposes. This isn’t the stuff wide audiences are made of, but the Italo-French-Swiss co-production has the conviction and force to find smaller audiences in search of ambitious food for thought.

With his craggy, lived-in face, Calopresti is perfectly believable as a ranting nutcase, made likeable by his no-frills honesty and the paradoxical wisdom he dispenses.

Told through the prism of many narrating voices and a shifting time frame, the story has layers of richness and psychological depth. At its best, it has a spontaneous quality like the creativity of an artist quickly sketching a portrait, grabbing whatever material comes to hand. Music plays a key role here, with John Cale and Avion Travel songs raising the volume of Franco Piersanti’s score. They dovetail with Arnaldo Catinari’s fluid camerawork and Massimo Fiocchi sophisticated cutting. Alessandro Marrazzo’s tasteful sets are a pleasure, as are the elegant glimpses of Rome and Turin.


Mimmo Calopresti.....Sergio
Francesca Neri.....Sara
Vincent Perez.....Francesco
Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi.....Carla
Fabrizia Sacchi.....Claudia


Directed by.....Mimmo Calopresti
Written by.....Mimmo Calopresti
Cinematography by.....Arnaldo Catinari


Premiered in Italy: January 31, 2003

France release date:  September 3, 2003


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