Days and Clouds

Director: Silvio Soldini
Year Released: 2007
Rating: 2.5

When a businessman loses his job, it places a tremendous burden on his home life - his wife has to give up her free time (doing art restoration) to do secretarial work and telemarketing, he has to take up odd gigs like wallpaper hanging and parcel delivery and they have to sell their lovely apartment, art collection (gasp!) and boat (double gasp!). The subject matter is frighteningly prescient in a time of deep economic recession both here in the U.S. and abroad (the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008) and the countless layoffs taking place - incidentally, two days before my watching this a family acquaintance who has a wife and two children and a mortgage got laid off - but Soldini's handling of the material is full of self-pity, and seeing the couple take on what the movie considers 'menial' and 'embarrassing' jobs (like reception work and construction) doesn't sting as much as it thinks it should (I've spent years doing my allotment of even nastier work, like scrubbing bathrooms and scraping mud off of factory floors) and the two main characters could even be worse off (as in, completely homeless or forced to move in with their parents like a family I know about). The conclusion has the bickering couple 'rejoined' by a love of art, though such an optimistic closing note doesn't seem likely - this is the kind of situation that generally leads to separation, and the husband never shows signs that he's comfortable making the transition from employer to employee.