Citizens of the World
The three heroes of Citizens of the World – Giorgetto, Attilio, and “The Professor” – are really just citizens of Rome. Even then they don’t travel very far. It’s a small world: the same bar, the same conversation, and the same dwindling group of friends. Fed up that their little pensions don’t stretch very far and allowing that they aren’t getting any younger, they resolve to see the world and live the good life.
What follows is a series of charming incidents as the boys plot their escape. First, needing to decide where to go, they visit a white-suited, grappa-drinking professor who advises them where the cheapest beer is. Once the destination is settled they must figure out how to get a passport. Giorgetto seems shaky on quite how they work. They make a half-hearted attempt at battling the bureaucracy which pays their pensions. Fed up with waiting in line in government buildings, they retire to the bar. This cheers them up.
Meanwhile, personal ties that had been ignored require resolution. Work-shy Giorgetto makes amends with his brother and helps out on his fruit stall; footloose Attilio shares some quality time with his daughter; “The Professor” finally makes a date with a lady he likes. In the background is Abu, an illegal migrant from Mali who uses Giorgetto’s shower and is trying to get the funds to travel to his brother in Canada.
All of this resolves into a more focused seizing of the day than they had imagined. Instead of escaping responsibilities, they attend to the ones nearer home. In more ways than one this is familiar territory – especially for anyone who grew up with Last of the Summer Wine. The three characters are genuinely likeable and quite charming in their bickering. It is very often amusing in a natural, unforced manner. However, the moral mirroring of a real-life citizen of the world in Abu feels tacked on and ill-considered – especially as at the end they literally patronise him.
This is a warm, comradely film which charms with its friendship and familial scenes of eating and drinking. If it never quite leaves its comfort zone and betrays a limited political outlook then that is no surprise and not quite a failure. After all, it’s often better to stick with what you know.
Citizens of the World is released digitally on Curzon Home Cinema on 12th June 2020.
Watch the trailer for Citizens of the World here: