Pietro is a rather obsessive, anal man, who moves to Rome in hope of finding work of an actor, and which will also allow him to be closer to a man he’s been in contact with. Before then he’s going to work in a bakery while living in a rather rundown apartment.
Shortly after moving in he discovers he’s not the only tenant, as the house is full of ghosts dressed in 1940s clothes. Initially Pietro can’t understand what’s going on, but soon comes to realise these are people who were once part of a World War II era theatre group, but who don’t realise they’re dead. He wants them out, as well as for them to stop moving his things around, but eventually he finds a way to live with them. As he finds out more about them it begins to change his life, even though his growing relationship with the spooks has others wondering about his sanity.
Director Ferzan Ozpetek has had previous success with the likes of Loose Cannons and His Secret Life. Here he creates an often charming Italian comedy, with likeable characters and an interesting story. Pietro is sweet and has his heart in the right place, even if he is a little OCD and doesn’t know when interest has become obsession. One of the film’s themes is how reality is often different from perception, and that’s as true for Pietro’s dreams of romance as it is for the fact no one believes the ghosts exist.
It covers a lot of territory, from the echoes of the Second World War that still exist in Italy, to the difficulty of following your dreams. Indeed it tries to do so much that some things get lost. This is particularly noticeable when it comes to Pietro’s sexuality, where various possibilities arise but none of them really go anywhere. One of the ghosts ends up watching him while he sleeps, which is both kind of creepy and offers a chance at something potentially fascinating, but that just disappears after a while.
The overall impression though is of something very light and amiable, so that every time it threatens to go to a place that’s dark and potentially interesting – such as how the ghosts ended up in the house – it pulls back a little and goes to something more frothy. It’s fun and Elio Germano holds things together extremely well as the likable but vulnerable Pietro, who’s so wrapped up in the possibilities of life that he’s in danger of missing out on what he has. I did wonder if it was originally supposed to be something a little darker, but while it’s unlikely to haunt you, it’s fun while it’s playing.
Overall Verdict: An affable, warm Italian comedy, which is filled with a lot of ideas but not so much follow-through. It still has charm, wit and watchability though.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac