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As a child in the Tuscany port town of Livorno, Bruno was understandably anxious and unsettled as he and his sister scooted after their hot mamma (Micaela Ramazzotti) because all three had been bounced from their home by a jealous father. Three decades later, Bruno (Valerio Mastandrea) is still a sourpuss, a disinterested high school teacher in Milan on the way to drug addiction. Can he finally reach some maturity — and find some peace — in a reconciliation with his ever-upbeat mother (now played by Stefania Sandrelli)? In contrast to him, she's a cheery presence, even though she's in Livorno on her deathbed. An ensemble of excellent Italian actors keep Paolo Virzì's The First Beautiful Thing fairly diverting, and in check from getting overly mushy. Still, the film becomes wearisome due to Virzì's indulgent use of busy, overstated flashbacks.

ITALIAN | 122 MINUTES | KENDALL SQUARE

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