Biography of Pupi Avati (Bologna, 1938)
Nello Balocchi, a thirty five-year-old teacher of Greek and Latin, shy and reserved by nature, is invited to Bologna by his father Cesare - owner of the Papal tailor's shop in Rome - in the hope that he will find a soulmate and thus produce an heir for the business. He stays in a guesthouse run by Arabella, a wise woman who already knows all about his situation, sharing a room with Domenico, a crafty, garrulous barber from Naples. After several unsuccessful efforts, during a tea dance in an institute for the blind Nello meets Angela, an exuberant, beautiful young blind girl with whom he falls hopelessly in love. The girl's father and Nello's parents do not approve of the relationship, but the real problem is Angela's temperament... Set in a historical period that is never clearly defined (although the nomination of Pope Benedict XV, mentioned in the film, dates back to 1914), the story of Il cuore altrove takes Avati back to his most successful genre: that which, criss-crossing memories and affairs of the heart, gave us superb works like A school outing (1983), which this film seems to some extent to strangely paraphrase. The ingredients are more or less the same: a love story, told with comic asides, which draws to a painful yet in some way serene end.
Again we see Avati's expert hand behind the blend of tenderness and cruelty, an oxymoron that no other contemporary filmmaker can quite match: and certain soul-destroying scenes are etched forever in the mind (like the dancing scene with the blind girls, or the ending with its reserved mournfulness), qualifying as some of the best moments Avati has ever given us. Against this intricately woven screenplay Avati places a superb, entirely credible cast: two new faces, Neri Marcoré and Vanessa Incontrada, in the roles of the two protagonists, are outstandingly real and powerful. In supporting roles, there is the sublime Giancarlo Giannini, as the rough yet adorable Roman, and the shrewd Nino D'Angelo, a thoughtless and quite detestable petty bourgeois type with utter disregard for others.