"Charming, Funny and Fatally Flawed"
What You Need To Know:
In many ways, BREAD & TULIPS is a charming romantic comedy. The clever humor is a refreshing contrast to most current films, and there are enjoyable scenes of kindness and warmth. There are also some good messages, such as kindness overcoming despair, and love not being based on physical attractiveness. Regrettably, a romantic worldview drives this movie. Early in the movie, a comment is made “to leave the train of rationality.” Characters demonstrate this philosophy as they let their feelings dictate their decisions. Immorality is never clearly rebuked. Marriage, traditional family, wealth, and responsibility are portrayed as barriers preventing people from enjoying life. Although God is not directly mocked, He is completely ignored. All of this is in complete opposition to the truth of Scripture, which says, “Who can eat or drink or have enjoyment without Him?” So, what’s left is a cotton-candy movie that is tasty, but never nourishes the soul.
(RoRoRo, LL, V, S, NN, A, DD, M) Strong romantic worldview throughout, emphasizing feelings as basis for decision-making, & rejecting marriage, family, wealth, responsibility; 9 obscenities & 1 profanity; character holds rifle to someone’s head, but not portrayed as truly threatening; two scenes of implied adultery & one scene of implied fornication; one scene of naturalistic upper male nudity, several scenes of woman in low-cut dress, three scenes of man & woman in underwear; alcohol use; smoking & references to marijuana smoking not rebuked; and, reference to abortion not rebuked.
BREAD & TULIPS (PANE E TULIPANI) is a funny-but-flawed story about an Italian housewife accidentally left by her family at a vacation rest stop. On a whim, Rosalba (Licia Maglietta) hitchhikes to Venice. She takes on a job with an old eccentric florist in order to remain in the city. She develops friendships with a quirky group of characters that includes a masseuse, a suicidal waiter and an inept detective sent by her husband to find her. Her relationship with Fernando the waiter (Bruno Ganz) turns from polite to friendly to romantic, and in the end Rosalba abandons her boorish husband in favor of the attentive waiter.
BREAD & TULIPS is in many ways a charming romantic comedy. For example, the entire cast looks ordinary; the absence of beautiful jet setters is refreshing. Director Silvio Soldini also photographed Venice sans all glamorous trappings. The city looks dilapidated, empty and colorless. This delivers a subtle message that happiness isn’t found in our surroundings, but rather in our relationships.
Another highlight of the movie is the humor. The clever physical and conversational jokes incorporated by Screenwriter Doriana Leondeff are a wonderful contrast to the vulgar idiocy found in most current films. While there is one crass humorous conversation, it’s the exception rather than the rule. The cast is flawless in delivering the jokes – their timing is perfect, and they never force the material. Antonio Catania in particular shines as the crusty florist Mimmo, and Giuseppe Battiston (Costantino the detective) delivers some excellent sight gags.
BREAD & TULIPS contains some good messages, such as kindness overcoming despair, and love not being based on physical attractiveness. In one scene, a character admits to lying and is forgiven. It’s also worth noting that there are no sexual scenes depicted (although some are implied).
For all of BREAD & TULIPS’ qualities, however, it can’t be recommended. Immorality runs throughout the movie and is never clearly rebuked. A woman talks about her sex life to Rosalba, and casually mentions a “second abortion.” Grazia the masseuse seduces Costantino during his first session with her. Rosalba’s younger son admits to smoking pot, but rationalizes that “joints aren’t drugs.” Fernando tells of having killed a man who was sleeping with his former wife, yet has no qualms about romancing Rosalba, who he knows is married. In fact, when she responds to conscience and returns to her family, Fernando later shows up and talks her into leaving with him (in front of her son, no less).
These situations are the logical outworking of the story’s romantic worldview. In the opening scene a tour guide declares, “Your genes urge you to leave the train of rationality.” The remainder of BREAD & TULIPS demonstrates this philosophy as the characters live by their feelings rather than thoughtful decisions. Marriage, traditional family, wealth, and responsibility are all portrayed as evils preventing people from enjoying life. Furthermore, although God is not directly mocked, He is completely ignored. All of this is in complete opposition to the truth of Holy Scripture, which says, “Who can eat or drink or have enjoyment without Him?” So what’s left is a cotton-candy movie that is tasty, but never nourishes the soul.