On a chance meeting young Tommaso (Silvio Muccino) encounters and falls madly in love with the beautiful Giulia (Jasmine Trinca) whose initial disinterest makes their proceeding romance even more whimsical as each moment plays out with delight and joy. Meanwhile, older couple Barbara (Margherita Buy) and Marco (Sergio Rubini) face the first real crisis of their marriage and contemplate wether a baby will help mend their relationship.

Then there’s Ornella (Luciana Littizzetto), a feisty traffic cop whose life is turned upside down by her husband's infidelity, but which inspires a quest of revenge against all men. The final chapter of Veronesi’s comedy mosaic follows the shattered Goffredo (Carlo Verdone), a gentle man who awkwardly attempts to re-enter the dating scene after his wife abandons him with the help of an audio-book aptly titled 'The Manual Of Love’.

2.5

The romantic comedy, The Manual Of Love was an Italian box office hit. Directed by Giovanni Veronesi, it explores the highs and lows of love and relationships through four interconnecting episodes. The film pays tribute to the Italian romantic comedies of Director's Scola and Risi, whose films depicted people and environments familiar to their viewers.

The Manual Of Love is framed around four sets of characters whose stories match the chapters of a popular self-help audio book. The first chapter is infatuation – Tommaso (Silvio Muccino) falls head over heels for Guilia (Jasime Trinca) and uses increasingly persuasive means to get her attention. Then it's crisis as Barbara (Margherita Buy) and Marco (Sergio Rubini) struggle with their relationship after many years of marriage. Thirdly comes betrayal – parking officer, Ornella (Luciana Littizzetto), uses her position of power to rampage against all men, when her husband is unfaithful. And lastly – abandonment – Geoffredo (Carlo Verdone) slowly comes to terms with the break up of his marriage and finds solace in the audio book.

The Manual Of Love, as a self help tool, is not exactly optimistic. Only the first episode has any similarity to happiness, even though it is infatuation. There's something uncomfortable about watching a character wear down a woman's resolve in order to get a date. Some might call this borderline stalking, but in this film's world, it works. Tommaso gets his woman. In fact, the women seem to come off second best throughout the film. The men are portrayed as persistent, forlorn but mostly calm, while the woman are irritating, push-overs or irrational. The way Luciana Littizzetto as Ornella, reacts to infidelity is totally exaggerated, diminishing her legitimate emotions. Meanwhile we're made to feel sorry for the poor bloke dumped by his wife, who becomes the unseen villain in the piece, heartless and cruel.

According to Director Giovanni Veronesi, he wanted the film to be an exploration of people's reactions to love, but his deeper concerns are lost as he aims for easy laughs over any illuminating insights. The film is an easy comedy, with solid acting, especially from Carlo Verdone as the abandoned husband, but lacks the emotional punch it's aiming for.