Prod co: Cecchi Gori. Domestic dist (It): Cecchi Gori. Int''l sales: Cecchi Gori (Farouk Alatan (+39 06 324721). Prod: Vittorio Cecchi Gori . Exec prod: Mario Cotone for Pacific Pictures. Scr: Graziano Diana, Simona Izzo, Ricky Tognazzi, from the book Canone Inverso by Paolo Maurensig. DoP: Fabio Cianchetti. Prod des: Francesco Bronzi. Editor: Carla Simoncelli. Music: Ennio Moricone. Main cast: Hans Matheson, Melanie Thierry, Lee Williams, Gabriel Byrne, Ricky Tognazzi, Peter Vaughan, Nia Roberts.

The Italian film industry is at such a sorry pass that, grasping for straws, you find yourself over-compensating when a reasonably well-made commercial melodrama comes along. Especially when - miracles of miracles - it does reasonably healthy business at the domestic box office. Making Love is no masterpiece, but a strong storyline and some good performances by an international cast - notably Hans Mathieson in the title role - make up for the occasional bout of bad writing. And the music - more Bach than Morricone - is suitably entrancing.

The love of young violinist Jeno Varga for the poutingly beautiful concert pianist Sophie Levi blossoms in Vienna on the eve of the Nazi occupation. At the same time, Jeno discovers that his best friend at the conservatory, the wealthy Davis Blau, may be more a brother - and less of a friend - than he had bargained for. But before either love or resentment can come to anything, Jeno and Sophie are rounded up and deported to the death camps. A violin which re-surfaces years later in Prague links the bulk of the story with its Chinese-box narrative frame.

Unlike many other pass-the-baton films, though - notably the superficially similar The Red Violin - Making Love does not use its guiding thread passively; the violin acts as a plot lever, with a satisfying precision (a strength, it has to be said, that has been grafted in to the film from Maurensig''s fine novel). To accommodate an international cast and improve its overseas prospects, the film was shot in English; but so far only the dubbed Italian version has been released. If the original manages to avoid the spectres of weak translation and a Euro-pudding melange of accents, it could stir interest abroad. There was talk of Miramax interest at the film''s launch; a distant prospect, but not impossible, with the right sort of packaging.