People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different. In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all. Read on!
If you enjoyed the pleasure of the Coogan/Brydon dramedy The Trip, you should only be excited for another, more Italian outing with the two. I certainly am.
The Trip to Italy is a film that’s very, very much like it’s predecessor. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing (possibly) exaggerated versions of themselves, are tasked by The Observer to drive around Italy (in the last film it was England) and review six restaurants. Along the way, the two talented comedians talk, do impressions, eat a ton of food, give each other shit, and generally have a damn good time of it. This is not a film where a lot happens, but plot isn’t what’s on display to enjoy. Instead The Trip to Italy (and its predecessor) are films about two men getting older. Where The Trip focused on Coogan’s character, an actor just on the brink of something else struggling with drugs and alcohol, The Trip to Italy focuses on Brydon. Here Brydon is husband and father pushing against the soft walls of domesticity. Brydon, a impressionist and caricature, carries the film, imbuing his over-the-top humor with a sense of loneliness, especially in the moments where he actually converses with his own characters. In both men, you see the common worries of aging just below surface, their needs, wants and motivations suddenly changed. It’s a testament to the skill of director Michael Winterbottom that this film is still, in parts, laugh out loud funny. These are very, very skilled comedians and they’re able to broadcast their inner qualms while facing off in a Marlon Brando imitation duel, or talking to a Pompeii mummy. It lags a bit, but in the slow, peaceful way a lackadaisical drive through the country might. And when the film lingers to a close with Coogan and his son swimming off the Amalfi Coast, and Brydon watching from above, no real conclusion has been drawn, but that’s the point – this is life, and life doesn’t have any clean cut endings.
I hope this becomes the British equivalent of Linklater’s Before Sunrise films, with Winterbottom returning to these two characters time and time again, to see where they are, and just how their lives have progressed.