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When Rosalba Barletta (Licia Maglietta), an Italian housewife, accidentally gets separated from her family while on holiday, she decides to hitchhike and spend some rare time by herself, ending up in Venice. She has no money and nowhere to go, until the waiter who serves her, Fernando (Bruno Ganz), offers her his spare room for the night. Although she planned to spend only a couple of days in Venice, Rosalba soon finds a job in a florist shop and begins to build a new life for herself. But when she phones her husband Mimmo (Antonia Barletta) and tells him what she's doing, he's horrified and begins plotting ways to bring her back with the assistance Costantino (Giuseppe Battiston), who he hires to find his wife. 

Review by Louise Keller:
It’s Shirley Valentine goes to Venice – sort of, whose characters are reminiscent at times of those in that wonderful French farce, The Dinner Game plus a touch of There's Something About Mary. The story is simply structured, beautifully told, while the characters feel very real and multi-layered. As for the very beautiful Licia Maglietta, it’s easy to fall in love with her – she exudes warmth, sincerity, while her beauty is far more than skin deep. If you love Venice – and who doesn’t? – you’ll enjoy discovering its back streets, it’s flavours and character. 

The first glimpse we get of the city of canals is a reflection in Rosalba’s sunglasses, when we spy the famous tower in St Marco Square. In fact we don’t get to see much of the usual tourist haunts; with Rosalba, we are discovering the real Venice, from the point of view of someone who is making a go of living there. The humour is accumulative and evolves very naturally with its characters and how the plot. We get a satisfying insight – a snapshot – into the lives of all the main characters; the lonely restaurateur landlord who keeps a hangman’s noose under the bed; the needy new age masseuse; the gruff florist shop owner who won’t let customers buy the flowers of their choice; the mistress who refuses to iron the shirts while the wife’s away…. Giuseppe Battiston steals all the scenes, as Costantino, the plumber cum detective (Inspector Clouseau like), whose doting mother follows him everywhere on his mobile phone. And to make matters worse (or funnier), its ring sounds like The Flight of the Bumble Bee. 

Although there are few extra features of any consequence, I was interested to see the different approach taken for the American and Italian trailers. There are some stills, biographies and three excerpts from the soundtrack. But the bread and butter of this DVD is the uplifting and deliciously funny film. Bread And Tulips is a total delight.

Published September 25, 2003

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Pane e Tulipani

CAST: Licia Maglietta, Bruno Ganz, Marina Massironi, Giuseppe Battiston, Felice Andreasi, Antonio Catania

DIRECTOR: Silvio Soldini

SCRIPT: Doriana Leondeff, Silvio Soldini

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

PRESENTATION: Italian and English; 16 : 9 widescreen;

SPECIAL FEATURES: US trailer, Italian Trailer, Soundtrack, Stills, Biographies, other films coming from Palace

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: September 24, 2003

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