Okey-dokey, if you were expecting this to be a marathon read then sorry to disappoint, because here is a film that lasts a mere 20 minutes. However, if you’re looking for a glowing review then look no further, because this is a delicious micro-slice of la dolce vita but with a truly wicked twist.
With a running time only slightly longer than back-to-back Dolmio ads, Stefano Formaggio has, unsurprisingly, a lot to pack in – and we’re not just talking about lashings of parmesan sprinkled over a lasagne, either. As the title suggests (formaggio is Italian for ‘cheese’), the story focuses on Stefano (Pasquale Cassalia), a local cheesemaker who is the idol of the village – idolised in particular by the women.
His good looks and charm are only surpassed by his produce, which apparently is by virtue of the fact that “he makes it with love”. It’s not long before a florist by the name of Jasmine (Alice Greczyn), like so many before her, is seduced by Stefano and his little yellow blocks of delight. Soon, the pair find themselves on their first date together and it’s here where things really start to pick up. Up until now, Stefano has been sweetness personified, but when he probes Jasmine about the idea of having children, only to find out that the very thought horrifies her, his mood suddenly darkens. Thus, we are tricked into thinking that the rest of the story will centre around our preconceptions of the stereotypical Italian male, when there is something so much more sinister and sophisticated to come.
In a nutshell, what begins as a seemingly innocent scenario turns out to be anything but. This movie unfolds and entertains in much the same way as a classic Roald Dahl tale and there are certainly more than one or two shades of Tales of the Unexpected in evidence; so it’s hardly surprising that it has gained attention at festivals around the world and introduced a few more people to the talents of Darren Darnborough. The writer and director, whose acting credits span shows ranging from True Blood to Holby City, is on top form here, effortlessly changing pace and mood as if he had all the time in the world. The acting is more than credible as well, although the short running time does make it difficult to establish whether or not there’s real chemistry between the two leads. The accompanying music also compliments the whole package wonderfully well.
Stefano Formaggio is worth 20 minutes of anyone’s time. Although some might end up feeling frustrated by its brevity, most will still be left far from cheesed off.
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