The Easy Life | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Easy Life

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Vittorio Gassman as a middle-aged playboy who takes law student Jean-Louis Trintignant under his wing, the better to teach him the cynical lessons of modern Italian living. Dino Risi's corrosive social comedy managed to combine the aggressive energy of the French New Wave and the dissipated drift of Antoniennui in away that seemed fresh and daring in the Italian commercial cinema of 1962. It still holds up a quarter of a century later, though Risi's attachment to surfaces (the superficial as corollary of the social) looks a bit less like criticism and a bit more like complicity. Still, it's an unsentimental vision he offers, edging toward nihilism, with little of the thematic softening and emotional backing off that frequently mar the comparable efforts of Wilder. The cynicism is thoroughgoing and more than a little heartless, but the styling, with its astute balancing of commerce and modernist understanding, is resolutely assured. With Catherine Spaak and Luciana Angiolillo. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Sunday, April 5, 6:00, 443-3737)

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