Josh Long’s review of The Trip to Italy (2014) on the website Battleship Pretension calls the film “a feast to the eyes, uproariously funny, and keenly introspective.”
I’ll go along with the “feast for the eyes” here, but I can’t agree that The Trip to Italy was uproariously funny. Funny, yes.
And I certainly can’t agree that it was “keenly introspective.” I think the film shows two high achieving, insecure, ungenerous,”friends” in a series of witty conversations in which they try to one-up each other. The few bumps into serious topics (e.g. mortality, failure, loneliness, rivalry) are quite shallow, and seemed to me to be cheap sentimentality: a guilty adulterer calling home but getting no answer, and pulling a long face.
Any film that is “keenly introspective” probably has central characters who are keenly introspective, not just insecure and anxious. Don’t look for character arcs here.
Structurally, the film is essentially a series of conversations over mostly ignored free food, a series of realty-show kitchen shots and brief close-ups of servings, and long shots of wonderful landscapes. Like a typical American tourist, I wasn’t always sure where I was.
After some welcome conversational attention to Byron, Shelley and Keats in the beginning, the chatting became mostly about iconic pop-culture film actors’ speech styles. Hello, shallow. If we overheard these loud conversations in a tavern, we would likely change bar-stools.