At the moment of writing, the world holds its breath on the edge of financial ruin. At the centre of the storm is Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, whose attempts at financial governance have been mired by his scandals, many of which seem to involve him with much, much younger women. It makes for a strange time to be watching Ages of Love, an Italian comedy about older men falling in love with women twenty years their junior.
Third in the Manual of Love series, these three short films get linked by a common block of apartments, progressive epochs of 'youth', 'adulthood' and 'beyond' and a Cupid (Emanuele Propizio) wielding a steel hunting-bow. The young Roberto (Riccardo Scamarcio) chooses between a commitment-free lover and his wife-to-be Sara (Valeria Solarino), vain newscaster Favio (Carlo Verdone) finds his undoing in a surprise fling with admirer Eliana (Donatella Finoochiaro), while the recipient of a heart transplant (Robert De Niro) encounters a lover for his autumn years in appealing, Bronx-tinted Italian.
De Niro's turn as the older Adrian proves to be one of the highlights of the film, as he performs a short strip tease for his lover Viola (Monica Bellucci). Wrinkled and sinewy, the scene allows him to be old without being decrepit. Cupping his hands over his bare heart scars as though they were a kind of nakedness, he is vulnerable and clumsy.
But the film is seriously short on women's perspectives. A problem, as each of the women get dealt the stronger parts in the stories. Sara takes some time to ponder her upcoming wedding, Eliana deals with mental illness while loving the wrong man and Viola, living a lie, finds unexpected gentleness with De Niro. Told instead by the men, the stories lose a lot of their power, leaving as ordinary what could have been far more compelling moments of modern Italian love.