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DVD Review: Criterion Release of 1960s Italian Road Trip Film ‘Il Sorpasso’

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Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – With the recent popularity of road trip movies in both mainstream films and the art house, it is a fitting pleasure that the Criterion Collection has released Dino Risi’s “Il Sorpasso,” a jazzy road trip movie that takes the story structure to its basics. Two opposing types meet unexpectedly, travel to random exotic locations, and interact with people who are rest stops in themselves.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

The film has two great performances from leads Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant, and various bits of Italian culture from a different time. For those who find road movies to be repetitious (especially considering the movies that use the formula like a crutch), “Il Sorpasso” is enlightening to an intriguing type of wild fun that can be had when watching characters throw their fate and sense of direction into the wind. While the movie might seem like the foundation for many that follow, it has a looseness that keeps it unpredictable, its breezy attitude continually contemplative.

It is also no wonder that this delightfully loaded Criterion release comes with an introduction from director Alexander Payne, who cites this film as one of his influences. His movie “Sideways” was directly influenced by this “Il Sorpasso,” but one can imagine how it has aesthetically and spiritually steered his other personal journey films, like “The Descendants” or “Nebraska.”

Il Sorpasso was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 29, 2014
Il Sorpasso was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 29, 2014
Photo credit: The Criterion Collection

Synopsis:
The shy lifestyle of Roberto (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is disrupted and changed forever when he becomes an unexpected road trip buddy for Bruno, a free-spirit who loves to live life fast and furiously. The two unexpected friends travel throughout Italy and learn about each other’s families, while getting a greater understanding of each other’s secrets.

Special Features:
o New 2K Digital Restoration
o New Introduction by filmmaker Alexander Payne
o New interviews with screenwriter Ettore Scola and film scholar Remi Fournier Lanzoni
o Interview from 2004 with director Dino Risi, conducted by film critic Jean A. Gili
o Introduction by actor Jean-Louis Trintignant from a 1983 French television broadcast of the film
o “A Beautiful Vacation,” a 2006 documentary on Risi featuring interviews with the director and his collaborators and friends
o Excerpts from a 2012 documentary that returns to Castiglioncello, the location for the film’s beach scenes
o Excerpts from “Speaking with Gassman,” a 2005 documentary on the relationship between actor Vittorio Gassman and Risi, directed by Rissi’s son Marco
o Trailer
o New English subtitle translation
o An essay by critic Philip Lopate

“Il Sorpasso” was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 29, 2014.

By Nick Allen
Contributor
HollywoodChicago.com

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