By Don Simpson | April 4, 2011
Director: Silvio Soldini
Writers: Silvio Soldini, Doriana Leondeff, Angelo Carbone
Starring: Alba Rohrwacher, Giuseppe Battinston, Pierfrancesco Favino
Anna (Alba Rohrwacher) and Alessio’s (Giuseppe Battinston) relationship begins to come undone when a charming waiter named Domenico (Pierfrancesco Favino) enters the picture. Prior to Anna’s first interaction with the talk, dark and handsome Domenico (he is from the south), we sense that her relationship with Alessio is friendly and comfortable but there is nothing sexy about it. Even their body types — Anna is attractive and petite, Alessio is frumpy and rotund — signal that they might be romantically incompatible. (I often found myself wondering how Anna and Alessio became a couple in the first place.)
The affair between Anna and Domenico is clumsy from the get go, as they not so clandestinely exchange each other’s digits outside of the insurance office where Anna works as an accountant. At their first rendezvous, Anna crashes into Domenico as she frantically rushes out of the cafe; she is intending to chicken out, but instead she has to lie about having to go to her office to send an email. The sexual chemistry between the two of them is incredibly magnetic, but it seems as though whenever they have an opportunity to see each other, they are unable to consummate their relationship. They stop the charade before it even begins, but then they decide to try again…and again. Eventually they develop a plan: every Wednesday evening, while Domenico is supposed to be snorkeling at the pool, they will meet in a sleazy motel room (with red walls and lots of mirrors) to have incredible sex.
The situation between Anna and Domenico becomes incredibly complicated because it is based upon a web of lies and deceptions. Domenico is married to Miriam (Teresa Saponangelo), with whom he has two young children. When Miriam becomes suspicious that Domenico is having an affair, suddenly Wednesdays evenings are no longer a convenient time for Domenico’s sexual forays Anna. Anna, on the other hand, decides to be honest with Alessio; but she fails to confide in her family, friends or co-workers.
Come Undone is just as much about the working-class struggle to put bread on the table as it is about Anna and Domenico’s affair. Both Anna and Domenico’s households are struggling financially. The only reason Anna and Alessio are able to enjoy a middle class existence is because they are childless, otherwise they would be stuck in the very same dire financial straits as Miriam and Domenico. According to Domenico, everything comes down to money; and given Domenico’s limited working class income, every expenditure comes with a painful choice (such as: ballet lessons for his daughter or a secret vacation with his lover)? When Anna and Domenico are together, however, money is not part of the equation, which is probably why they are so happy together.
Writer-director Silvio Soldini (Agata and the Storm, Days & Clouds) often allows the most minute gestures and actions to speak for themselves (fleeting glances, unconscious smiles, furtive flirtations, nervous conversations, etc.). Soldini also opts to focus on the more mundane and arbitrary aspects of life within the structure of his narrative, delegating very little time and attention to the traditionally important moments, such as the birth of a niece. These non-traditional storytelling techniques promote an impressively organic atmosphere in which scenes and dialogue develop (or come undone) naturally and flow at the normal speed of life.