Light satire from Italy

Issue 

Light satire from Italy

Johnny Stecchino

Directed by Robert Benigni

Starring Robert Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi

From mid-July at the Nova Cinema, Melbourne

Reviewed by Vannessa Hearman

This is Italy's highest grossing film to date (over $35 million), a comedy spoof directed and written by Robert Benigni, who starred in Jim Jarmusch's Down By Law and Night on Earth.

A naive, kind-hearted school-bus driver, Dante (Benigni) meets a beautiful young woman when she almost knocks him down with her expensive car. Dante develops a crush on Maria (Braschi), who turns out to be the mistress of Mafia boss Johnny Stecchino (Johnny Toothpick, also played by Benigni).

Stecchino is in hiding after turning police informer on his Mafia colleagues. Maria hatches an elaborate plan to trick the Mafia into believing that Dante is actually Johnny. The well-known theme of mistaken identity has a twist at the end.

This film is worth seeing for its clever stunt sequences and the occasional satire of the Italian political establishment. It manages to be funny even when utilising well-worn jokes.