Movie review by Andrea Karen Hammer
In the delightful foreign film Bread and Tulips, Rosalba Barletta (Licia Maglietta) captivates viewers from the opening scenes. Viewers immediately relate as she struggles to fish out an earring accidentally dropped in a rest-stop toilet. Her down-to-earth and natural style enhance the humor in a spiraling series of mishaps–from missing the departing tour bus with her husband and son onboard to losing her shoes while a detective chases after her.
Fortunately, Rosalba seems to adapt quickly and happily. Readily embracing her newfound freedom, she decides to continue traveling on her own for a while, transforming an initial misfortune into a path toward a new life. While following her desire to visit places in Italy that she has always longed to experience, she prompts the shock, dismay and surprising indignation of her philandering husband, Mimmo (Antonia Cantania).
Quirky Characters Add Appealing Charm to Entertaining Film
After meeting the kind but troubled waiter Fernando (who Bruno Ganz plays with poetic and sometimes heart-wrenching distinction), Rosalba shares his apartment when she runs out of money. Then, she spots a help-wanted sign in the window of a flower shop, where she takes a job with the brusque but endearing shopkeeper (Fermo who Felice Andreasi plays spiritedly). In the warm presence of Rosalba, he also eventually softens during tea time with his new employee, creating other memorable moments in this enchanting movie.
New Friendships and Chance to Play the Accordion Evoke Unbridled Joy
While forming these and other new friendships including one with her eccentric neighbor and masseuse Grazia (infused with Marina Massironi’s childlike wonder), Rosalba starts to blossom. When she finds an accordion tucked in a closet at the waiter’s apartment, she is visibly transformed.
Along with her increasingly independent life, playing lively music fills her with unbridled joy. Even after the detective Costantino Caponangeli (who Giuseppe Battiston plays with bumbling yet tender appeal) finds her, she returns home briefly but rides this wave of self-discovery with gusto through the surprising conclusion.
Bread and Tulips, a film with subtle humor and stellar performances, is a foreign film that you don’t want to miss!