Dir. Carlo Mazzacurati.It-Fr. 2004. 108mins.

Two of Italy's hottestyoung stars combine with one of the country's most talented directors for AnItalian Romance (L'Amore Ritrovato), a disappointing melodrama whosefuture depends exclusively on their names; without them, it could not hope foranything better than a straight-to video release.

As it is, the glamour ofStefano Accorsi and Maya Sansa, playing respectively a married bank clerk and abeautician in love, has managed to generate some action on home ground, but itis doubtful whether its attributes can carry it much farther than that.

The main interest in thisdated romance, set in 1936, is Maria (Sansa), a young woman from a modestfamily who throws all convention to the wind when she meets Giovanni (Accorsi),a presentable bank clerk with whom she once had a fling.

She draws him from aone-afternoon-stand into an extended relationship, during which the purelyphysical fling between them grows into full-scale emotional infatuation.

Though from a lower socialclass and a woman, she is the dominant half of this couple, more passionate andassertive than her bland, comfortable middle class lover. In truth, however,there is nothing very exceptional or challenging in their affair, with no realobstacles to overcome and the brief crises that do erupt sporadically quicklydissolved into the next embrace.

Giovanni is married and hasa little daughter, but that is no impediment, moral or otherwise, for him orMaria. His wife and child only make a first appearance 80 minutes in - and itis only then that Maria realises the affair has no future.

While no effort is made tokeep the contact between the two lovers secret, none of those around them passany comment: pre-war Italy must have been very liberated indeed.

The distinct social gapbetween Giovanni and Maria offers potential for some dramatic confrontationsyet it is barely tapped. Giovanni is drafted into the Italian navy whenMussolini invades North Africa, but the only difference this makes is that heswaps his business suit for an officer's uniform.

There is a sense that thestory is grappling with itself, trying to reach a satisfying ending which thenappears to come too soon. Another sequence is added after the seem ending, inwhich Giovanni and Maria's meet up nine years later at the end of World Wartwo.

The only seeming purpose ofthis coda is to suggest that while things may have settled down for each ofthem separately, it is still very lovely to recall the past.

Mazzacurati, whose earlyfilms like Notte Italiana and Un Altra Vita displayed a keen eyefor subtleties and talent for shaping interesting characters, is very much offform here. Nowhere in the script is there a feeling of urgency driving thestory forward and there is a distinct lack of dramatic material to fill up afull-length feature.

As usual in such cases, gapsare filled with shots of nature and plenty of music, smoothly, dutifully andabundantly supplied by cinematographer Luca Bigazzi and composer FrancoPiersanti.

As for Accorsi and Sansa,they have both been better served by their parts in the past and they willcertainly be again in the future.

Prod cos: Bianca Films, Pyramide Prod, Medusa Film
Int'l sales:
Pyramide Int'l
Donatella Botti, FabienneVonier
Doriana Leondeff, ClaudioPiersanti, Carlo Mazzacurati, based on Una Relazione by Carlo Cassola
Luca Bigazzi
Paolo Cottignola
Prod des:
Giancarlo Basili
Franco Piersanti
Main cast:
Stefano Accorsi, MayaSansa, Marco Messeri, Roberto Citran, Anne Canovas