TUTTI CONTRO TUTTI directed by Rolando Ravello (Italy, 2013)

When it comes to enjoying films in a second language, comedy is the most challenging genre of all.

So much of humour is culturally bound that appreciating it is not just about linguistic ability. It is also often necessary to pick up on references to local customs, national celebrities and regional dialects.

The last of these was my big stumbling block with this movie. I was reassured when one Italian woman remarked  during the interval that some of the Roman lingo was hard to catch.

The deadpan quips from the character of grandfather always raised a laugh but I only understood about a quarter of them.

The film has elements of Ken Loach in the way it seeks to see the funny side of serious social problems; in this case unemployment, homelessness and immigration.

With the current economic crisis, tensions usually get directed at minority groups so it’s nice to see a film that tackles these subjects with a lightness of touch without belittling the issues.

It is the story of an Italian working class family who return from a communion service to find their flat has been occupied by someone else who has changed the locks.

The police is unable, or unwilling , to step in so they resort to unconventional methods to gain back their home. This involves the husband, wife, two kids and grandfather camping out on the landing outside and eventually the creative use of a local prostitute.

During the standoff, we get to learn about the multi ethic nature of the apartment block and understand the pressure for housing from the presence of a gypsy community living nearby.

A self-appointed landlord is a menacing figure, having set up a makeshift office from which to wield his power.

Gradually the people unite against him and begin to believe in their own capacity to implement change.

In trying to combine social satire and homely sentiment, the director ultimately bites off more than he can chew. Nevertheless, this is a warm-hearted movie which mother tongue Italians, particularly those from Rome, will see the funny side of more than this Englishman in desperate need of subtitles.

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