Two Cents Worth of Hope

At the Brattle

This delightfully frivolous little Italian movie proves that the world is big and just because America has the jelly beans doesn't mean that it knows everything.

Just south of Naples, where most people don't wear shoes or brassieres, is a timeless little town inexplicably concerned with the manufacture of fire-works. Most Italian villages are anxious to marry off their maidens handsomely and most Italian loafers spend much of their time standing in the sun holding up the local church's sturdy stone walls; in these two respects, this village and these loafers don't seem very different. In their midst, however, is an unlucky young man just returned from military service, pursued mercilessly by the cackling village wench. His mother and her father are both a little insane in opposite directions, and everybody has a few fights here and there and drinks of Chianti now and then.

The idiom of humor is utterly different from the American; the situation is so utterly crazy that much of the picture's charm is not in its guffaws but in its continuity; the screech of the language seems so utterly preposterous to the untrained ear that we suspect these Italians may be pulling a much bigger joke than we know. According to Casablanca gossip, both of the principals, Maria Fiore and Vincenzo Musolino, are acting professionally for the first time. If so, they could have fooled us. Their humor is broad and foreign, but not obscure.

Two Cents offers a unique view of love and life. Excellent subtitles excerpt a delicious irony from the raucous goings-on. It's no power house of witticisms, but it's delicately fresh and funny.