· The film ·
After a failed love affair, Valeria (Sophia Loren) wants to go into rock music as shown in psychedelic posters plastered all over her room as a late adolescent. Fr Mario (Marcello Mastroianni) is a priest so convinced of his vocation that it only takes a couple of days with a woman for him to vacillate.
The two become acquainted over the telephone just before she tries to commit suicide when she phones a ‘telefono amico’ (help line) for a final human contact. In five minutes the man’s comforting words dissuade her. This situation is enough to make us realize that in The Priest’s Wife (1970) Dino Risi was less interested in credibility than in exploiting the famous and publically acclaimed couple; furthermore he wanted to come to grips with an issue that would be polemic and attract attention. In spite of a certain indignation it effectively provoked in Catholic circles of the time, the plot is almost always developed with discretion and a light-handedness which is often amusing. However, when one seeks to deal with the topic of priestly celibacy, the screenplay must reckon with the superficiality of its presuppositions, or inexorably fall apart. (emilio ranzato)
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 22, 2019
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