The Tiger and the Snow is another objectionable romantic comedy from Roberto Benigni, a con man who treats war as his comedic playground. Tempting as it is to applaud the director’s temporal experimentations, a chokepoint is reached when the film, after jumping for the umpteenth time between past and present, fantasy and a ludicrous version of real life, reveals itself to be in service of a lunatic narcissist’s idea of artistic freedom. A concession to hipsters, Tom Waits stars as the wedding singer of Benigni’s dreams, in which Artillio (Benigni) arrives at his fantasy nuptials to Vittoria (Nicoletta Braschi) in his boxers. Awake, she appears to Atillio as a researcher at a university where he teaches poetry of all things. There’s no rationale for why she succumbs to her stalker’s come-ons (her arbitrary tears in a bathroom reveal nothing), or reason for why she slips into the night as Atillio boasts of seeing her in the candles in his apartment and in the bubbles in his champagne; it’s as if he were talking to himself, and yet the grin on her face would suggest that she doesn’t mind that his words could curdle milk. When Vittoria heads to Iraq to research the work of the great Faud (Jean Reno), Atillio follows suit and learns that she is in a hospital ill-supplied to treat her injuries, which forces him to forge through the country to find the ingredients for the anti-dema she requires. With grotesque arrogance and blindness to everything but his own twisted fixation to Vittoria, Atillo will nearly be shot by American troops who mistake the medical supplies strapped to his body for explosives, pratfall through a dirt field laced with bombs, and end up in prison thanks to his cellphone. What is most reprehensible about Benigni’s vision is not that the horrors in Iraq (including an out-of-nowhere suicide) exist only to boost his character’s perverse romanticism, or even that the writer-director takes no discernable stance on the war in the country, but that Benigni asks us to picture his divine manhood ascending to the heavens.
- Roberto Benigni
- Roberto Benigni, Vincenzo Cerami
- Roberto Benigni, Jean Reno, Nicoletta Braschi, Tom Waits, Emilia Fox, Gianfranco Varetto, Giuseppe Battiston, Lucia Poli, Chiara Pirri, Anna Pirri, Andrea Renzi, Abdelhafid Metalsi, Amid Farid
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