'Everybody's Fine': a father's joy and pain

On movies

August 22, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

Giuseppe Tornatore's ''Everybody's Fine'' is an interesting excursion about a father trying to re-connect with his children. Though Tornatore, who wrote and directed the film, takes his time making his point, the film has a gripping finish. It is hard to leave the theater feeling bad about "Everybody's Fine."

Tornatore is the man who gave us the Academy Award-winning ''Cinema Paradiso.'' In this, his third feature film, Marcello Mastroianni plays a 74-year-old retired Sicilian named Matteo who decides to visit his five children. The children are scattered from Milan to Rome and he never hears from them.

He discovers that none of his offspring has become successful, which is what he had hoped for. One son, who had been working at a college in Naples, seems to have left with no forwarding address.

Another son lives in Rome, where he is a minor member of the Communist Party leadership. A daughter drives Matteo to Florence, where she works as a model and an actress -- she is not doing well as either. She also has a daughter whose father is not around.

Matteo's third son lives in Milan, where he plays the bass drum with a symphony orchestra. He, too, has amounted to very little.

The last stop is Turin, where another daughter lives. She is a telephone operator, and her life, too, is in shambles. She and her husband are separated, and their young son has a girlfriend who is pregnant.

In short, Matteo experiences the joys and heartbreak that befall parents. His story is universal in many ways.

Throughout his trip, Matteo hopes to assemble his family for a reunion dinner in Rome. ''The way we used to meet at home,'' he says.

Only two sons appear for the dinner. All but the missing son, however, are at Matteo's bedside when he collapses and is taken to a hospital. Before he collapses, he is told what has happened to his missing son.

Tornatore, using a trick or two that may have originated with Federico Fellini, gives his film flow. On occasion, when the dramatics are not that interesting, ''Everybody's Fine'' is pictorially energetic. If you haven't been to Italy, this is a nice enough way to acquaint yourself with the terrain.

Mastroianni, obliged to wear thick glasses and several gold teeth, manages to make us think he is older than his real age of 66. In the supporting cast is French actress Michele Morgan, who plays a tourist. She tells Matteo, her new friend, to end his journey and go home. You will only find disappointment, she says.

Playing the missing son as a boy is Salvatore Cascio, the little boy in ''Cinema Paradiso.''

''Everybody's Fine'' begins a one-week engagement at the Charles today. ''Cinema Paradiso'' is a tough act to follow. ''Everybody's Fine'' doesn't come close to it, but it has its

moments and a very touching finish.

''Everybody's Fine'' ** A retired Sicilian decides he will visit his five children, who are dispersed throughout Italy.

CAST: Marcello Mastroianni, Michele Morgan, Mario Cenna, Robert Nobile, Valeria Cavali, Norma Martelli, Salvatore Cascio

DIRECTOR: Giuseppe Tornatore


) RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes

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