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Feast your eyes: Billy Wilder's Avanti!
BYOApple in Italy
AVANTI! (1972) is neither director Billy Wilder’s most lauded nor well-seen. Confidently languorous in its pacing, the film is not unlike the stride of an Italian afternoon, which hinges on a generously punctuated lunch hour. Here's a comedic demonstration: in one scene, a U.S. government employee freshly deplaned in Ischia is refused assistance by the island's jovial policeman who affably lodges this pranzo defense at the stupefied and hurried American. Avanit! falls under a subcategory of films "Americans vacationing in Italy," which is why I chose to watch it a few years ago prefacing my first European voyahhge.
Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills meet-cute, or morbid, rather under funereal circumstance when his father and her mother die in a car accident. What proceeds is , as the two try on the roles of their parents,' somehwat reminiscent of In The Mood for Love without the sensuality and longing, but with as many food-related scenes. The film divulges in particular the eating habits of a woman. Mystified by the slimness of Americans (!!), the female lead decries her weight and constantly references her diet. This is so much a part of the joke that her name is...Pamela Piggott. Of course, she does not look overweight in the slightest.
A bastion of good eating, Italy is an oasis for both gourmand and every-man, and so the most deadly adversary of the dieter. With this in mind, Pamela supplies her own mealtime rations when dining out. She plucks an apple from her handbag and furnishes it on her plate. (The considerate staff offer to peel and cut the thing at least.) Just as the fruit symbolizes man's fallen grace and temptation to sin, Pamela too concedes to the desires of her flesh and asks to try Lemmon's pasta. “Just a taste,” of course.
Aren’t vacations (though this is for her is not exactly a pleasure-trip) meant to be about indulgence? A reminder for myself not to count calories (or euros) when I'm away. I will defer to my tastebuds and not my waistline, like Pamela towards the end of the film. Enjoying a sunny afternoon alone, she orders quattro gelati—all for herself.