The lives of two rivalling tailors are chronicled in this bittersweet drama set during one of the darker moments in Italian history.

3
A moving take on a tragic subject.

It?s Rome, 1938. Fascism is tightening its grip on Italy. Two neighbouring tailor shops are business rivals. The gentile Umberto (Diego Abatantuono), who runs an elegant up-market business, is getting increasingly agitated about Leone (Sergio Castellitto) undercutting him and stealing his ideas. Leone is a Jew and as new laws begin to rob him of his rights and threaten his business his old rival warms to him.

After Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful, Ettore Scola has come up with a very different approach to the fascist persecution of the Jews. The early scenes are a bit plodding as Scola sets up the rivalry and antagonism between the two men. But once the film gets into gear and Leone's life and family are threatened the film becomes more interesting and the two actors come into their own. Diego Abatantuono as the basically decent Umberto and Sergio Castellitto as the stubborn Leone.

Unfortunately in this Italy-France co-production some of the supporting roles are not so successful, particularly a poorly-dubbed Gerard Depardieu as Umberto's brother. But despite this, Scola's serious approach to a tragic subject is ultimately moving.