Woo the father, win the daughter—that’s life for aspiring bachelors in the imaginary seaside town of Amatrello, where the rule is that whoever gives a ragazza’s father the best gift on her 18th birthday gets to take her out. This proves something of an issue for the titular fisherboy, who objects to the age-old ritual both on moral grounds and because he’s fallen hard for the mayor’s daughter, Elena. Penniless, Marcello starts wheeling and dealing, until it becomes apparent that nothing happens in the small, bumptious town without a quid pro quo. Director Denis Rabaglia keeps things moving briskly, even when local-yokel fixtures threaten to gum up the works (a priest outlaws rock ’n’ roll; the butcher has a temper). Francesco Mistichelli plays a winning Marcello, wily and manipulative when trying to wrest some much-prized limoncello from the hands of two lonely dowagers, and sweet-talking the professor who thinks that Marcello would go places if only he’d apply himself. The film sets up its dominoes over the first hour and then knocks them down, inevitably, in the final sprint, but there was never any real conflict to begin with—turns out young love can galvanize a village, exhume its skeletons, and heal its wounds. This is tableau-vivant cinematography, with a saccharine storyline, color-enhanced photography, and a soundtrack heavy on strings. Very pretty, but really, we’ve seen it all before.
Saturday at 9:15 p.m. Also at 7:45 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, at the Avalon. Director Denis Rabaglia will be present.