Our society’s values regarding love and marriage make sense to me.
We are allowed to have as much sex before marriage as we want without guilt. If our spouse cheats on us, we have the option to forgive and move on or to get divorced.
It’s not a perfect system, but it is sane and civilized. Certainly compared to topsy-turvy society presented in “Divorce, Italian Style.”
“Divorce, Italian Style” is a brutal takedown of Sicilian culture. And a consistently outrageous comedy.
The film tells the absurd tale of Don Fernandino (Fefe). Fefe is a minor nobleman in a small Sicilian city. He’s the picture of a young European aristocrat: classy, sophisticated, and debonair.
Fefe has only one little problem: he is sick of his wife Rosalia. And he’s infatuated with his hot teenage cousin Angela.
So what is he to do? Divorce is completely illegal. And adultery is unforgivable. That leaves Don Fefe with only one viable option: killing his wife.
But he’s got to be smart about it. There is still some stigma against committing cold blooded murder in order to marry a 16-year-old.
It is completely acceptable in Sicily, however, to kill in the heat of righteous passion or to protect your honor. So Fefe painstakingly works to set Rosalia up with an artist who has had a crush on her since high school.
The plan works to perfection. Rosalia shacks up with the artist. Now Fefe can just sit back and wait. He knows what is going to happen next.
Don Fefe has done the most contemptible and notorious thing that a man can do: he has become a cuckhold. *gasp*.
Fefe holes up in his room, pretending to sulk. Meanwhile, the entire city turns against him and his family. Fefe’s sister’s fiancé calls off the wedding. He can’t marry into a family that harbors a cuckhold!
See what he did? Clever Don Fefe created a scenario where he’s a hated outcaste if he DOESN’T kill his wife.
Fefe is a deeply terrible human being. And yet it’s pretty fun to watch him play all the nitwits in his town like fiddles.
Writer/director Pietro Germi makes Sicilian culture look ridiculous and hypocritical.
The purpose of a legal system is to help curb the bad behavior of the people. Germi shows us that the main vices of Sicilians are violence and addiction to drama. Unfortunately, their legal code actually codifies drama and justifies violence.
This isn’t a gentle satire of Sicily; it is a brutal takedown. Germi presents Sicilians as barbarians who are voluntarily stuck in a Groundhog Day of lust, misguided passion, and murder.
“Divorce, Italian Style” is too funny to miss and too brilliant to ignore. I have no evidence to support this, but I predict that this film made Sicilians less supportive of hereditary aristocracy and honor killings. And more open to the virtues of legal divorce.
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