Review of Dear Diary

Dear Diary (1993)
Relaxing comedy
12 March 2005
I had to purchase this film after seeing it once late at night on a cable channel many years ago. Although the director can come off as an effete intellectual, his focus is on the Italian culture as it has changed over the past 30 years. As a passive observer of Roman lifestyles, this film is better appreciated when you have some first hand experience living in Rome - since the director's point of view seems to come directly from this city. In a certain way, Caro Dario is the intellectual version or sequel to Fellini's Roma. Instead of satirizing low brow Roman lifestyles, Caro Dario spoofs the pretentious intellectuals (like his traveling comrade who finally breaks down and admits he is a soap opera addict) and the couples who have read various philosophical and historical works to their only son every night to help him go to sleep. As the parents are rattling off the list of philosophers and historians "... we have read Hegel, Wittgenstein, Herodotus, read and re-read Cicero", they hesitate for a moment not recalling one of the authors and the son chimes in "Tacitus!". It was funny just appreciating the stark contrast of the family's existence and lifestyle as compared to the principles and content of what they had been reading to their son.

I call it a relaxing comedy because it depends on vignettes for comedy and then intersperses great scenery and music in between. The comedic moments are just pointed enough to keep the film interesting, e.g., the very precise translation of "mezzo scemo" by Jennifer Beals; the island of misfit parents whose children reign; and the inside view of Roman medical care. Now all that's needed is a prequel to Roman culture. We have seen the Rome of the 1930s through the 1970s in Fellini's "Roma". Caro Dario takes us from the 1960s to the 1990s. Perhaps a good satire on the culture at the time Verdi through to World War I.
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