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Italian movie: Matrimonio all'Italiana

Hosted by the Consul of the Cape Town Arts & Culture Group
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Took place 1 month ago
Wed 27 Mar 20:00 - 22:30

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It tells the World War II era story of a cynical, successful businessman named Domenico (Mastroianni), who, after meeting a naive country girl, Filumena (Loren), one night in a Neapolitan brothel, keeps frequenting her for years in an on again-off again relationship (as she continues working as a prostitute). He eventually takes her in his house as a semi-official mistress under the pretense that she take care of his ailing, senile mother. After having fallen for a younger, prettier girl and having planned to marry her, he finds himself cornered when Filumena feigns illness and "on her deathbed", asks to be married to him. Thinking she'll be dead in a matter of hours and that the 'marriage' won't even be registered, he agrees. After having been proclaimed his legal bride, the shrewd and resourceful Filumena drops the charade and reveals to have put up the show for the one child she bore from him (she gave birth to three sons but Domenico only maintained to have fathered one). Domenico tries to cajole her into telling him which one is his but she stalwartly refuses, telling him that sons can't be picked and chosen and that he has to be the father of all three.

One of the film's most memorable moments is when Domenico is on the phone with his new flame, shortly after having married the "moribund" Filumena. As he reassures his fiancée that death is near, a wild-eyed and vengeful Filumena emerges from a curtain behind him and exclaims in Neapolitan that she is in fact alive and well—the Madonna having taken pity on her.

A struggle ensues as Domenico obsesses over which son is his; Filumena reveals that his son was conceived on a night when he told her that they should "pretend they are in love". She wrote the date on the Protected content note he gave her, now in her locket, and after which she became pregnant. If Domenico can remember this date he will know who his son is, but he cannot. He visits all the young men at work, searching for clues. But Filumena refuses to reveal any more.

When they meet again, he threatens to go the boys and tell them things she would not have them know. She says if he does she will kill him. They argue ferociously. But at last, fall into each others' arms.

At the church, the boys wait, and Domenico arrives. Dominco mentions that since he will be marrying their mother he will give them his name. However, he continues to prod them for clues. Filumena rushes in, and Domenico smiling with joy, tells her how wonderful she looks.

Back at home, the sons bid their mother goodnight. As Filumena sits and weeps with joy, the boys, one after another say goodnight to "Father". Domenico smiles broadly at this, and says, yes he will see them tomorrow.

When Domenico asks why she is crying, she states it feels wonderful to cry.