A retired railroad worker, living in Sicily, has five children who are married and living on the mainland. He decides to surprise each with a visit, and makes some unwelcome discoveries about their lives.
Matteo (Mastroianni), a retired civil service clerk now living in a typically picturesque Sicilian village, decides to pay surprise visits to his five adored grown-up children (all named after characters in operas - Matteo is passionate about opera), now scattered throughout the length and breadth of Italy. His dream is to gather them around the same table once more and recapture their past sense of family.
The old man's odyssey, by train, takes him to Naples, Rome, Florence, Bologna, Turin and Milan, via a stop in Rimini where he has a moving encounter with a sympathetic widow (the sublime Morgan). Bemused by an Italy he has never seen, Matteo also encounters a series of emotional shocks as he discovers that his cherished beliefs about his sons and daughters are no more than a series of cruel illusions.
Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso was, of course, the shock foreign hit of 1990, and Everybody's Fine shares many of its ingredients. Stunning to look at, propped up by a soupy Morricone score and fair packed with incident, thousands will doubtless enjoy wallowing in its naked slushiness, of which there is far more on display here than with its predecessor. Others will find it almost sickeningly whimsical, overlong and hard to bear.
Overall, while there is a little too much sentimentality, Everybody Wins is superbly acted, beautifully directed and a stunning advertisment for the beauty of Italia.