That for every person there is a perfect another half of the apple is a theory dear to Plato too. But have you ever wondered what this half must be like? Do opposites attract one another or do we have to look for that piece that fits perfectly like in a puzzle? What if instead of a half we settle just for a quarter, or for a slightly bruised half, or a half with a different shade? Is it not the imperfection that makes us unique?
With the brilliant screenplay by Martino Coli and the refined direction by Alessio Maria Federici, Four To Dinner asks us to abandon the clichés behind which too often we hide and to question ourselves in front of the screen…somewhat like Luca (Flavio Furno) and Sara try to do with Federico in the movie.
“Well, we tell you a story, and afterward you tell us if you still believe in the soul mate or not”: in the words of Sara and in the story told by Luca, as well as in the work of Coli and Federici, there is no judgment against the characters actions. As there is no attempt to convince the viewer about what the exact definition of a soul mate is.
Luca and Sara are newly married and, a bit for fun, a bit for a challenge, they decide to invite four of their single friends to lunch: Giulia, Chiara, Dario, and Matteo. Obviously, the hosts have a very precise idea of what could be the perfect match; but they decide not to reveal it: nor to their friends so that the stories can take their natural course without conditioning; nor to the audience, so that it is not influenced in the judgment or in the choice of questions to be asked. This is what makes Four To Dinner a refined Italian romantic comedy that has nothing to begrudge to overseas cinema; a sliding door of opportunities dictated by the serendipity of our, ops..of their actions.
Two guys, two girls, two possible couples, two narrative lines, and four actors, among the best of the Italian scene in recent years: Giuseppe Maggio (Out Of My League, My Heart Goes Boom that premiered in the UK at the 2021 Raindance Film Festival), Matteo Màrtari (Medici: The Magnificent as Francesco Pazzi), Matilde Gioli and Ilenia Pastorelli.
“Don’t you get bored sometimes?” asks Giulia to Dario during their first date at the restaurant… because we can use the tactics we want to impress the other person, we can consult books to know how many objects scattered around the house are needed to mark the territory or how much we have to wait to call… actually texting (calling is for losers says Stella to Matteo) the person we are interested in, pretend to be the next Paul John Hollywood, thanks to Instagram where we can pretend what we want… with some foresight to what we put in the shot… ;-), putting ourselves at stake on the fine line between pity and endearing; but then life makes us the stool, shuffled the cards and mixes them up, changes the game and put us in checkmate… Is it all lost or is it just from that hitch, from that sudden change of perspective that we can find the half that naturally completes us?
Four to Dinner gives us all the elements necessary to ask ourselves these questions but what about the answers? Well, the answers, after all, are already within us, in the trips that destiny has played for us over the years.
” […] and, maybe, over the next few years, I might become a little bit lighter, I don’t know how but I’ll try and maybe the other half will try to get darker…and it’s not easy, you’ll never achieve perfection, but there is nothing wrong with that,” says Luca. And maybe that’s the secret…we talk about soul mate; sometimes even “right person at the wrong time”; but the person who was Mr/Miss Right at a certain time in our lives, would still be IT nowadays? Perhaps, that in the end, the secret is to find that person who challenges us to leave our comfort zone and pushes us beyond our limits and towards which we can do the same, to change color together until you reach the same shade of red, isn’t it? In the song For Good from Wicked, Glinda and Elphaba sing: “I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason
bringing something we must learn and row row row your bot gently down the dream and we help them in return. Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true but I know I’m who I am today because I knew you…Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you I have been changed for good“; having lived for many years in the UK and in the USA where I learned new traditions, where I fell in love with new sports,…that will be part of me forever (a bit like the Luca who could have moved to Boston becoming a different person and so probably someone not right for Sara), I think that’s the real secret that guides us to the right half of the apple.
Matteo and Giulia argue about meat vs fish, dogs vs cats, seaside vs mountain… And if a person who loves the seaside and hates the mountain if it’s not for skiing, will find himself/herself isolated, in lockdown, in the middle of a pandemic, in the mountain house, in spring so suddenly turns into someone who loves the sunset over the sea and the sunrise from a peak, even if it is not snowy? Would he/she stop being the perfect half of someone who loves the sea to become the perfect half of someone who loves the mountain, or would he/she continue to be the perfect half for both just with a different shade?
So, what would you say to Sara now? Do you still believe in soul mates? Maybe in a significant other able to defy the laws of physics as in the intriguing book On Est Toujours le Même by Giuseppe Maggio?
Four To Dinner coming on Netflix worldwide on January 5th