Lawrence and E.M. Forster found inspiration in Italy. So did Byron and Shelley—a
fact Rob Brydon will hardly let Steve Coogan forget. He will quote both poets
at length when the celebrity impersonating duo embark on another road-trip in
Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip to Italy (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
Italy might just be
the only Winterbottom film that resembles any of his previous work. Clearly
sticking with the game plan that proved so winning in The Trip, he turns Coogan and Brydon loose to eat and riff with
abandon. Playing somewhat fictionalized and exaggerated versions of themselves
(or so we can only hope), the comedians obsess over their careers and
complicated personal lives, while touring through Italy for a series of
about everyone who saw the original Trip know
it as the Michael Caine impression movie (or television show, as it was
presented in the UK). There is not the same pitched impersonation battle this
time around, but Brydon gives his Al Pacino and Tom Hardy good workouts. Arguably,
the Italian Trip is not quite as
funny as their tour through the north of England, but the food is considerably
more tempting. The second time around will also resonate more with cineastes,
who should enjoy their visits to the famous locations seen in John Huston’s Beat the Devil, Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt, and William Wyler’s Roman Holiday.
both Trips are rather light when it
comes to narrative, but it is rather fascinating to watch Coogan and Brydon
portray their own somewhat unsympathetic meta-analogs. While Coogan played a
rather soulsick Coogan the last go round, he makes a good faith attempt to redeem
himself and reconnect with his fictional son in the new outing. In contrast,
Brydon goes from being the more likable one to a bit of a cad this time.
If you do not feel like visiting Italy after
watching the latest Trip, you were
not watching with your eyes open. Winterbottom and cinematographer James Clarke
make it look spectacularly beautiful. Brydon and Coogan also land an impressive
number of laughs, which Winterbottom wraps up in a surprisingly effective
bittersweet bow. Recommended for fans of British comedies and foodie films, The Trip to Italy opens this Friday
(8/15) in New York at the IFC Center.
Labels: British Cinema, Michael Winterbottom, Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan