A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
There was a time in the 1970s when Lina Wertmuller briefly seemed to be the new hope of European cinema. After movies like "Love and Anarchy," "Swept Away . . ." and "Seven Beauties," she was even profiled in a famous New York magazine cover story by John Simon, who found her, as I recall, just about the best living director. Then she lost whatever magic she had, and the 1980s were a dismal time in her career.
Now she is back with a movie like "Ciao, Professore," which has undeniable qualities, although none of them are what made Wertmuller famous.
There is little sardonic wit, little irreverence, little satire here; the movie seems inspired more by the sentimental "Cinema Paradiso" than by Wertmuller's early films.
The hero is the "Professore," a grade school teacher from northern Italy who has been assigned, through a bureaucratic error, to the shabby De Amicis School in a poverty-stricken village near Naples, named Corzano. He immediately puts in a request to be transferred back to the more affluent district he is accustomed to, and meanwhile surveys the disaster area he has inherited.