Starring: Vittorio Gassman, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Catherine Spaak
Director: Dino Risi
Running Time: 105 mins
Il Sorpasso is an Italian film about an impulsive man who takes a shy law student on a two day road trip in the countryside north of Rome, leading to a series of strange adventures.
This is such a fun film. Featuring two fantastic lead performances that make for a thoroughly entertaining and bizarre dynamic from start to finish, Il Sorpasso is a consistently funny and fantastically fast-paced movie, keeping you fully engrossed throughout in its simple but elegant story following the two men as they drive around the Italian countryside with absolutely no plans whatsoever.
First off, let’s talk about the performances, which are the best part of this film by a long way. Above all, Vittorio Gassman is amazing as the loud and impulsive man who whisks a young man away on an unexpected road trip. Effortlessly charismatic and as such fantastically likable, he fills the film with energy and classic Italian flair at every moment, never straying into overly boisterous or annoying territory, and always keeping to his character’s clear love of the flamboyant and free-thinking way of life.
On the flipside, you have Jean-Louis Trintignant, who plays the shy law student. In keeping with his character’s development through the movie, Trintignant starts in relatively unspectacular fashion, although making his character’s failure to refuse the abrupt offer of a meal and then a day out pretty entertaining, however as the student begins to become more and more accustomed to Gassman’s way of life, and manages to loosen up enough, he becomes just as likable and even almost as charismatic as his co-star, something that was great to see.
Another big positive abouth this film is just how fluid and natural it all feels. Unlike your typical road trip movie, there’s no real objective or end destination for the two men here, and their journey just becomes prolonged from a series of misunderstandings. However, that makes it such a fun and pleasant watch, as it fits in perfectly with Gassman’s character leading the way, and also lets you enjoy the development of the initially awkward relationship between the two men blossom into a fantastic frienship, rather than getting hung up on any sort of end goal being reached by a certain time.
And yet, despite being a very fluid and free film, this is also a really fast-moving one. Without a doubt, its final act isn’t quite as hectic as the way it starts, but its first act is an absolute riot, with Gassman randomly turning up on Trintignant’s doorstep and whisking him away on this road trip. From there we watch the pair get further and further out of Rome and become more and more immersed in the countryside, but with Gassman’s lead foot on the accelerator pedal, everything moves by brilliantly quickly, and it gives the film as a whole so much energy that’s an absolute joy to watch.
Overall, I really enjoyed Il Sorpasso. Not only is it a pleasant and entertaining comedy, but it’s a rapid-moving and fantastically energetic one, well-directed by Dino Risi and featuring two brilliant central performances, making for two hours of genuine fun, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.0.