Italo is a movie that you want to love for all the right reasons – it is based on a true story about a stray dog called “Italo Barocco” who appeared one day and became a local celebrity in Scicli in the island of Sicily, Italy. Italo reportedly would come to church and sleep during the service and won the hearts of everybody in town. Now, if only the writer/ director (Alessia Scarso) and the other writers (Isabella Aguilar and Coralla Ciccolini) tried not to season the story too much, it would have been a heartwarming, down-to-earth crowd-pleaser. Instead the movie ends up being a stickly sweet, over-the-top mess – like a bowl of dessert that’s presented to you after the chefs argued in the kitchen that it should have more sugar, after adding cups after cups of sweetener.
In the movie, Italo the dog appears out of nowhere in Scicli, where stray dogs have been outlawed and destroyed whenever they are found. He quickly befriends Meno (Vincenzo Lauretta), the lonely son of a widower in town, who is also the mayor of Scicli, Antonio Blanco (Marco Bocci). So far so good. Throw in the love interest in the person of Laura (Elena Radonicich), Meno’s new teacher who is originally from the north, some gossiping locals, and an over-the-top Luisa (Barbara Tabita) as Antonio’s rival in the mayoral election, you have a messy, sickeningly sweet, mess.
I want to love the movie, being a dog owner myself. However, when I kept on looking at my watch, repeatedly sighed at the predictability of the story line, and the ridiculousness of the scenes (e.g. when some of the townsfolk try to capture Italo by running from one edge of the screen to the other), I knew that my evening would have been better spent elsewhere. Perhaps a good movie for the young ones, but a walk with the dog is much better than watching this. Mi dispiace!