The Players (Gli infedeli) (2020) by Stefano Mordini

recent comedy films on Netflix

Overall, patches of wit and multiple narratives push the film a notch higher than the other recent comedy films on Netflix. However, there is an underlying tendency to be morally correct. Also, too many characters ramble on for too long. All of these shifts the focus from the essential element that drives such films, which is, lust.

2 out of 4 stars

Confused, like men

The marketing team of this film grossly misread the movie. In fact, even the makers misunderstood themselves. They wanted to make some sort of an energetic comedy. The dialogues in the trailer even hint of screwball, given some of them tilt towards craziness. Also, the introductory story points in that direction. While on a flight, a man goes off to sleep. His wife, sitting beside him, finds a way to unlock his mobile. What she sees inside makes her scream in the same way Homer Simpson will if Moe’s is closed. Now, all moral consciousness aside, this is a moderately funny beginning.

Therefore, when you move to the next story, you will hope for a similar tone and energy. However, 15 minutes later, instead, you find yourself between a couple who scream and ramble at each other. The wife suspects that her husband might have had an affair or two. So she keeps nagging him (and us) for a century (it feels that long). Till he reveals. And then they fight. You love it when your neighbors fight because you know them. But here, you care shit. Moreover, you have to read the subtitles for no good reason because their story will be ending pretty soon.

Now, the recent comedy films on Netflix have mostly been one-note. So it should feel refreshing when the genre tries something more. But not when comedy gets replaced by blahs. As the rambling goes on, you wonder whether you are in the wrong film or room. But it’s not your fault. It’s the makers who have given us jabbering that’s mostly unearned. Especially because the story’s final twist is predictable like hell. Well, if men are confused about what they want, so can be genres.

Only one player stands

That men are confused creatures is clear in the next story. The man here is supposed to be desperate to get laid. But his actions suggest that he is more eager to grab the attention of everyone. During a party, he goes disco dancing to slow lounge music. He is more than willing to tell jokes that aren’t funny. Others want cigarettes from him while they are ‘at it’. Then he almost forces a woman to have a drink with him. Anything to have ‘that spark again’. The story’s single-mindedness is commendable. But by then, it has turned offensive and the lady basically wants to throw him out of her room. It’s not good for a film when your funny guy pisses a woman off.

In the next story, a husband becomes addicted to a whorehouse (though it appears more like a horror house). When the wife finds it out, she responds in a way, let’s say, unique to the plot. The pay off is creative. The story thus mostly succeeds. But the way the whorehouse has been lit hints at the conscious efforts of the makers to make this place morally dark. That morality is a factor here is also evident by the way the husband behaves with the prostitute.

In the next story, the wife finds out about her husband’s adultery. Then the husband takes insane ways to prove that the wife is crazy. But the ending is ironic enough to be amusing. Also, it is the only pay off that justifies the English name of the film. In the final story, we go back to the old rambling ways as three men jabber on for ten long minutes. The final point of the story is basically a repeat of what we have learned from the previous shorts.

Of morals and blabbers

Overall, patches of wit and multiple narratives push the film a notch higher than the other recent comedy films on Netflix. Riccardo Scamarcio has a face one will keep curiously looking at, and the film makes good use of this. However, there is an underlying tendency to be morally correct. Also, too many characters ramble on for too long. All of these shifts the focus from the essential element that drives such films, which is, lust. This prevents the film from being a standout in its genre.

Credits (from IMDb):
Directed by

Stefano Mordini

Written by

Filippo Bologna
Stefano Mordini
Riccardo Scamarcio

Cinematography by

Luigi Martinucci

Editing by

Massimo Fiocchi

More:

Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret) (2013) by Mikkel Nørgaard

Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret) (2013) by Mikkel Nørgaard

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