Those Happy Years (dir. Daniele Luchetti) *Opening Night Film
Daniele Luchetti (My Brother is an Only Child, La Nostra Vita), one of the staple names in current Italian cinema, presents a deeply affecting family drama based on his childhood- growing up in socially tumultuous 70's Italy.
Told in grown up Dario (Samuel Garofalo)'s voice, the film chronicles ups and downs of a couple- Guido (Kim Rossi Stuart), a conceptual artist and his slowly blossoming wife Serena (Micaela Ramazzoti) and their two young sons. A son of an artist and an overly critical mother, Guido is swept up in 'being an artist', surrounded by naked models and dreaming of that big break. He and jealous Serena always fight about his infidelity in front of kids. She doesn't understand why she and kids can't visit him at the studio and he protests that as an artist, he needs space.
The big break comes along and Guido has a naked body painting performance in Milan. Serena shows up with kids and Guido barks at her. She then takes off with her friend Helke (Martina Gedeck) to France in a feminist retreat with kids in tow. For many Italian women, it's the time of self-realization and free love. She hooks up with Helke and everything is being documented by Dario, the budding filmmaker with his super-8 camera. In the meantime, Guido's Milan show flops.
Those Happy Years is a delicate, detailed period piece that's intimate and inviting with affecting performances by everyone involved. It might be reflecting specific time and place, but also shows struggles of being an artist and the process of creating something worthwhile which often is linked to life experiences.