Dr. Timoteo Rossi (Sergio Castellitto) has the perfect life: a beautiful wife Elsa (the glorious Angela Finocchiaro), a smart daughter and a medical practice that is the envy of all his friends.
There is only one problem, though he loves his daughter, he's not really in love with Elsa because he can't get Italia (Penelope Cruz) out of his mind, thoughts and even actions. Everything reminds him of Italia and his brief but fervent affair with her.
Castellitto, who also directs here, has fashioned his film with more than a nod towards Roberto Rossellini and the Italian Neo-Realism films of the 1950's: Cruz is even made up to look like a new millennium Sophia Loren. But that is about the only similarity between the two for Cruz has a tenderness and vulnerability as Italia that Loren never had and that Cruz has never, up to this point, exhibited on the screen.
Cruz's Italia is average looking and takes nothing for granted: she is content with having only as much as Timoteo is willing to give her, as she says to him: "I don't care if you come back once a week, once a month or once a year...just come back."
There is a heart-breaking scene close to the end of the film between Italia and Timo that is performed only in close-ups: the camera moving back and forth between the two, which is a textbook treatise on film acting: eyes, face, eyes... that says volumes without any dialogue.
Castellitto, so good as an actor in "Mostly Martha," has directed a film with a master's eye. His scene compositions are beautiful and his astute sensibilities, particularly in the scenes between Timo and Italia, mark him as a director in possession of uncommon grace and a transcendant inner fire that hopefully will stay light for many films to come.