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:: La Tigre e La Neve (The Tiger And The Snow)

Roberto Benigni is well known to English-speaking audiences for the worldwide success of “Life Is Beautiful”. He had very limited support for the “Pinocchio” feature afterwards, but he now returns, as director/actor, with a story about poetry – set within the bounds of the Iraq War. To some, the film will look similar in theme and style to “Life Is Beautiful”. It remains very sentimental and audiences will enjoy the unique circumstances that Benigni offers. Benigni stars as a divorced poet Attlio di Giovanniand his real-life wife, Nicoletta Braschi, stars as Vittoria, his object of affection.

The setting focuses on Baghdad and Attilio develops a friendship with Arab poet Fuad (Jean Reno). The realities of a volatile atmosphere are soon apparent when Vittoria becomes badly hurt in an explosion on a business visit to Fuad (She is his editor).

By dubious and humorous means, Attilio finds his way to Baghdad in his quest to see Vittoria. He finds her in a bad way, needing much attention and medicine. He decides to take care of her in his best and unorthodox way. You have to laugh and admire the actions that he takes as he tries valiantly to get particular medicines that can save her life.

Though not quite capturing the continuous appeal that “Life Is Beautiful” felt, the writing goes into sometimes dark territory, especially with Fuad’s character. However, the comic persona and overall structure of the film are appealing. There is true independent spirit, boldly set in an atmosphere of war. That in itself is becoming very uneasy to the participants.

Jean Reno is excellent is his role of Fuad. He brings humanity to the role. Watch for the appearance of as serenading Tom Waits, a part of Attilio’s wedding dreams, singing “You Can Never Hold Back”. Nicola Piovani provides an excellent and emotional score.

Whatever one says, Roberto Benigni is an incredible person and his abilities as a storyteller are unique. This story sees him back to form in a way of giving us humour and optimism.