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Movie Review: Italy: Love It or Leave It

January 25, 2013

Italy-Love It or Leave It PosterItaly: Love It or Leave It – A KinoSmith Release

Release Date: January 25th, 2013 @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Rated PG for language

Running time: 75 minutes

Gustav Hofer (dir.)

Luca Ragazzi (dir.)

Gustav Hofer (writer)

Luca Ragazzi (writer)

Santi Pulvirenti (music)

Frank Dabell as Narrator (English Version)

Gustav Hofer as Himself

Luca Ragazzi as Himself

Italy-Love It or Leave It

©KinoSmith.  All Rights Reserved.

Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi in Italy: Love It or Leave It.

Our reviews below:


Italy: Love It or Leave It Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Luca Regazzi and Gustav Hofer shared the story of their coming out in the 2008 documentary Suddenly, Last Winter, a look at discrimination against homosexuality in Italy.  The young couple is back in their follow up film Italy: Love It or Leave It, an often slight but mildly entertaining documentary that follows them on the road as they question where to settle down.

The two travel through Italy in a tiny Fiat 500, taking a sometimes cynical look at the staples of Italian culture that have become clichés over the years.  The camera shows us everything from the impoverished African immigrants working on an orange farm in Calabria, to the political unrest of leader Berlusconi and his heavily publicized affairs that feed the overly sexualized way that women are depicted in the media.  We also discover some shocking truths about the lack of environmental awareness.  Their road trip causes them to question if the grass really is greener on the other side, ending with a predictable but interesting conclusion.

The documentary often feels slight and is a little slapdash in its approach, constantly shifting focus and not staying on any theme or subject for longer than a couple of minutes.  There are also a few too many scenes of Luca Regazzi and Gustav Hofer hamming it up for the camera, making us question if they are actually taking themselves that seriously.  But in its best moments, like how it shows the rift between the rich and poor or the final few moments of wisdom that come at a monastery, Italy: Love It or Leave It is a mildly entertaining look at the politics behind the title country.


Italy: Love It or Leave It Review by Erin V.  

*** (out of 4)

Italian couple Luca Regazzi and Gustav Hofer were first introduced to the documentary world through their first film Suddenly, Last Winter that they made about gay rights in Italy.  Now in their second film, Italy: Love It or Leave It they document their six month trip around the country to decide if it is worth staying as Luca wants, or moving to Berlin as is preferred by Gustav.

Over the course of their trip, they see a side of Italy that is not the postcard version the rest of the world gets, but rather one with corruption, environmental hazards, and low standards of living for the poorer immigrants, especially in the south.  This seems to drive Gustav to insist he’s right and that they should leave, but Luca is  not ready to give up yet, not sure if abandoning their homeland – even if it isn’t perfect – is the right thing to do.

Desperate to find another side to the stories they come across, they soon find people who take the darker sides of their neighbourhoods as invitations for change rather than abandonment.  The film is a little disjointed at times, but I found it to be entertaining enough, with refreshing little moments of humour throughout.  Overall, the film presents an interesting and very open look at the culture of one country, and says something interesting about where we live that could apply anywhere – there are always problems, it’s what we do that matters.


Italy: Love It or Leave It Review by Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Italy: Love It or Leave It shows a different side to a country that is so often romanticized.  The film’s creators, Luca Regazzi and Gustav Hofer, are a couple who are struggling to make ends meet.  After receiving an eviction notice, the two men decide where they should go next.  Luca wants to stay in Italy, but Gustav wants to move to Berlin, where life is apparently more affordable.  So they head off on a six month road trip through Italy in a series of rented Fiat 500s.

What they find out is that much of what is taken for granted like cars, agriculture, garbage disposal, advertising and politics, are linked to poverty, environmental degradation, organized crime and demeaning views towards women.  With so many problems on so many levels, should the men leave, or stay and be the change they wish to see?  Italy: Love It or Leave It shows us some pretty shocking things.  While rich society throws away usable clothes, agribusinesses pay their immigrant workers so little that they live in third world conditions.  Other businesses overwork their employees or close down factories for outsourcing, adding to the poverty crisis.

Meanwhile, as Prime Minister Berlusconi’s call girl scandal is happening, the media continues to objectify women.  The film also touches on environmental issues.  Lakes are filled with sewage, garbage is illegally dumped, and developers exploit land and abandon it.  One surreal scene visits a Sicilian ghost town of half finished buildings, which have a bizarre melancholy beauty of sorts.  Organized crime is also an issue, contributing to many of Italy’s pollution and social problems.

Italy: Love It or Leave It covers so many issues, that it gets overwhelming.  However, these issues aren’t unique to Italy.  They are universal problems that need to be addressed.  Ultimately, the film shows us that there is hope.  A visit to a monastery shows us people can live in peace with each other and with the Earth.  Italy: Love It or Leave It is a good introduction to a number of social and environmental issues.


Italy: Love It or Leave It Review by Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

How do you know if or when it’s time to leave the place you’ve always called home?  In their entertaining documentary Italy: Love It or Leave It, filmmaking couple Luca Regazzi and Gustav Hofer take us on a road trip through Italy as they try to make a life changing decision.

Forced to leave their Rome apartment, Gustav feels that Italy is going nowhere financially, socially or culturally and a move to Berlin, Germany would be wiser.  Luca agrees that things aren’t going well in their homeland, but Italy is where his heart is.  He convinces Gustav to take six months to really see Italy before they decide where to move.  The amusing road trip the two men take in their ever-changing colours tiny Fiat 500 is a real eye opener.

Narrated in English by Frank Dabell, the two bicker back and forth in Italian (all subtitled) as they discover city by city how much Italy is hurting.  From street demonstrations over Prime Minister Berlusconi’s love for the ladies, student protests, factory closings, environmental concerns, reluctant acceptance of gays, to the unspoken presence of mafia influence, Luca has a hard time convincing Gustav that Italy is still the place to be.  Yet the majority of Italians they meet along their journey say they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Italy: Love it or Leave It isn’t your usual travelogue.  Italy’s flaws are laid bare, yet Italian love for their culture and origins can’t be denied.  When Luca and Gustav finally make their decision it feels right.  I enjoyed Italy: Love It or Leave It.  While my own heritage is Irish, I’ve learned to appreciate all things Italian thanks to my Italian husband and his large family.  This film captures the spirit of Italian pride.


Italy: Love It or Leave It Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Italy: Love It or Leave It features partners Luca Ragazzi and Gustav Hofer (in Italian with English narration and subtitles) arguing about whether to stay in Italy or emigrate like many of their friends have done. Brought up in the German/Italian speaking Dolomite region annexed from Austria, Gustav wants to move to Berlin, while the native Roman Luca is reluctant to leave. They agree to take a six month tour of the country in an old FIAT 500 before deciding.

No one can dispute that Italy’s glories are mostly in its past. Visits in the north to an auto worker facing diminished wages and benefits and a recently closed and outsourced coffee pot factory point to economic decline. Mob corruption in the south and Sicily leads to serious pollution and grandiose government backed projects left unfinished with most of the funds ending up in offshore accounts. Sexism is rampant in the popular media largely owned by the embarrassingly tacky billionaire politician Berlusconi, who still enjoys enthusiastic support from middle aged fans. The treatment of migrant African farm workers is disgraceful.

Despite all its problems, Italy remains a beautiful country whose people have not lost their love of good food, family values and life in general. Maybe it is worth staying after all. As they wrestle with their life-changing decision, the use of animation, typically sardonic Italian tunes and banter between the two filmmakers keeps Italy: Love It or Leave It from taking itself too seriously, which is how Italians best deal in general with life’s challenges.


Consensus: Following directors Luca Regazzi and Gustav Hofer, Italy: Love It or Leave It is an entertaining documentary that seems a little unfocused, but offers an interesting look at the social and environmental problems that the country faces.  **3/4 (Out of 4)

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