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Even before Enrico (Toni Servillo) leaves his post, it’s clear he’s going to. As the opposition party leader in Italy, he’s taking the brunt of the plummeting approval ratings heading into the national election, and it’s getting to him.

Just as he approaches the period of the biggest speeches of the year, he disappears. A note left behind explains that he’ll be gone for a few days – no reason is given.

With 90-minutes of runtime, most filmmakers will pick one or two things and try to perfect them. Director Pierfrancesco Diliberto (better known as Pif) orders the whole menu, post-dinner stomachache be damned.

A newly broke mom turns to the world’s oldest profession to repay her deceased husband’s debts in this light-hearted story of a damsel in a tiny black dress.

At 33, the last thing Alice (Paola Cortellesi) thought she’d be doing is moving her nine-year-old son out of their beautiful Roman villa and into the ramshackle “roof pad” of an apartment block in a multiethnic slum. Tasked with recouping thousands in owed debts, she contacts a friend working as an escort (Anna Foglietta) and asks for her help to break into the very lucrative business.

This formally accomplished, heartwarming Italian drama finds a former priest moving into a lighthouse in search of solace after losing his position in the priesthood, only to find his new home attracting the attention of others who have similarly stalled out in life.

Veteran Italian actor Rocco Papaleo writes and directs, and stars as Father Costantino. He’s joined at the lighthouse by his brother-in-law (Riccardo Scamarcio), whose wife has run out on him with an unknown lover, and a prostitute (Barbora Bobulova) who’s just saved enough money to buy herself a new life. More arrive, until the small home is brimming with eccentric characters, lively arguments, and uncovered secrets.

For a film whose many subplots stem from the playing of football matches, The Referee doesn’t teach you much about the sport. But then again, in a way it really does.

Much like the Albert Camus quote that opens the film, “Everything I know of morality, I learned on the soccer field”, ll – The Referee is a satiric film that digs in to human behavior as it fractures, contorts, and unites around the context of competition and fanaticism. Many small narratives emerge – some serious, most comedic.

//Mixed media

"Island of Lemurs: Madagascar" Is Cute but Spooky

// Short Ends and Leader

"This flick is a superficial but eye-popping survey for armchair nature tourists.

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