A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World (Amori che non sanno stare al mondo) is a romantic dramedy with explicit content that makes it inappropriate for younger viewers. Multiple drawn-out sex scenes show everything but the genitals, while others include nonsexual full-frontal male nudity. There are also in-depth discussions about women faking orgasms and men's sexual cluelessness. Expect tired clichés around gender roles in relationships: The main character, Claudia (Lucia Mascino), is neurotic, needy, and demanding of her boyfriend, Flavio (Thomas Trabacchi), who brushes off her need for commitment. After they break up, he starts up a relationship with a much younger woman; Claudia ends up being so fed up with men that she decides to give it a go with women instead. The film is in Italian and, at the time of this review, does not include English subtitles. Italian swear words include "cazzo," "stronzo," "merda," and "scopa." Characters drink (sometimes too much), smoke, and take prescription medication.
What's the story?
In STORIES OF LOVE THAT CANNOT BELONG TO THIS WORLD (the English translation of the original Italian title, Amori che non sanno stare al mondo), the relationship between Claudia (Lucia Mascino) and Flavio (Thomas Trabacchi), two college professors, started with a fiery spark and stayed tumultuous for seven years. After they break up, Claudia struggles to forget and move on. But she obsessively analyzes their relationship with the help of her friend, while Flavio starts a new relationship with a much younger woman. Memories of the defunct relationship intertwine with scenes from the present as Claudia learns to let the past go.
Is it any good?
Like peeling a bandage off slowly, inch by excruciating inch, watching Claudia struggle through coming to terms with the end of her relationship with Flavio is painful. Through flashbacks, viewers see Claudia as an almost unbearably insistent romantic partner, while we learn very little about Flavio other than that he appears to be remarkably patient. She's constantly nagging and in need of validation and reassurance; he's emotionally distant and seemingly indifferent. After the breakup, she turns obsessive, and he turns to a younger woman. Both Claudia and Flavio play up some of the worst gender stereotypes around men and women in relationships. A scene in which a supposed university professor details the calculations that determine the dating age equivalency between men and women (for women, automatically add 15 years above the man's age, add more for each child from a previous relationship, take away years for plastic surgery, and so on) is comedic but demeaning.
The movie's only saving grace comes at the end, when we finally see Claudia become empowered, though there's very little detail in Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World about her journey toward personal growth. She hints that she realizes how Flavio played his part in their dysfunction, but she doesn't delve too deep, and this all seems too little, too late. The takeaway message seems to be that men are selfish pigs who don't really know how -- or aren't willing -- to truly satisfy women, and that women are destined to pine for them regardless. All in all, not a great picture for teens learning about relationships.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gender representation in Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World. What does the movie say about the roles that women and men play in relationships? How accurate do you think that is?
What do you think the movie's sex scenes add, if anything, to the storytelling? Could the same story be told without the sex? How does sex affect the characters' feelings and behavior?
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