Bread and Tulips

Bread and Tulips

2000, PG-13, 116 min. Directed by Silvio Soldini. Starring Marina Massironi, Giuseppe Battiston, Bruno Ganz, Licia Maglietta.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 5, 2001

Near the beginning of Bread and Tulips, an Italian tour bus pulls away from a rest stop, leaving behind Rosalba (Maglietta), the story's protagonist. From the film's opening shots we have learned that she is an unappreciated housewife, quieted by her husband's indifference and her teenage sons' diminished need for her. We also learn that Rosalba is a klutz, and, tellingly, she drops her wedding ring into the rest-stop toilet and is fishing it out when she misses the bus. Deciding to hitchhike home, she instead follows a whim to continue on to Venice. One night away becomes two nights and then longer, the sad waiter Fernando (Ganz) who feeds her and gives her a room for the night becomes a love interest, the kooky neighbor (Massironi) becomes a good friend, and the anarchist florist gives Rosalba a job. All is going well for Rosalba and her new life until her husband tires of his wrinkled shirts and sends an unemployed plumber fond of mystery novels (Battiston) to find Rosalba in Venice and bring her home. But even here, the tone remains light and upbeat in this multi-award-winning Italian film. As the film's anchor, Maglietta is a revelation. Her depiction of this overlooked middle-age woman strikes a note that is equally sensitive and comic. And Ganz (the angel in Wings of Desire) is an old pro at conveying states of extreme melancholy and sadness. The immediate charms of Bread and Tulips are many, however the film's psychological underpinnings are light as air. Rosalba's husband is indeed a boor and her sons are nearly grown, but is this really all it takes to uproot her life? Coincidences abound. Rosalba discovers an accordion and remembers that she learned to play as a child, and Fernando also remembers that he used to sing on cruise ships. The lack of detail makes our feelings for this middle-age runaway more ambiguous. Before settling on a literal translation from the Italian, the English title of Bread and Tulips was Hopelessly Romantic, which I think provides a better sense of what this movie is about. It's an endearing romantic daydream, but misses the bus where matters of reality are concerned.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Silvio Soldini Films
Days and Clouds
...

Aug. 8, 2020

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
The Last Tree
British migrant coming-of-age drama empathetically explores what it is to belong

July 17, 2020

The Truth
Binoche and Deneuve clash exquisitely as mère et fille

July 3, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Bread and Tulips, Silvio Soldini, Marina Massironi, Giuseppe Battiston, Bruno Ganz, Licia Maglietta

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle