10 Days Without Mamma [10 Giorni Senza Mamma] — Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2019 — Palace Cinemas, September–October

After 13 years of unbroken parenting while her husband, Antonio (Fabio De Luigi — Tiramisù; It’s All About Karma) takes her homemaking for granted, Giulia (Valentina Lodovin — Welcome to the South; Figli del Destino) realises that her sister is right: she needs a holiday. So for ten days, while Giulia and her sister reprise a past visit to Cuba, Antonio gets to know his children and to learn what it takes to feed, clean, and educate them and transport them to and from their schools. Meanwhile, though, his boss at work piles on the pressure with competition from an ambitious new colleague for his position, and Antonio’s anxiety to retain his position leads him to a decision he’ll come to regret.

Looking after the children is not the joy Antonio may have expected, either. His son, the middle child, delights in using his very young sister as a target in military games, and his eldest has already discounted all possibility that he’ll cope with everyday things. And a serious injury to his housekeeper–nanny necessitates hiring a new nanny whom he would like to help overturn an injustice.

The story is familiar, of course, in its general outline. But some original twists offer surprises and delights, and by and large its many very likeable characters will have you hoping they’ll find their ways through their problems. And their best antics make for genuinely funny viewing by all.

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