Imagine Who Killed Roger Rabbit starring Woody Allen and directed by Pedro Almodovar and get at least part of the picture on this latest offering from the Italian comedian-writer-director of last year's cult hit The Icicle Thief. This time out Nichetti co-directs (with animation wiz Guido Manuli) a mix of live action with cartoons, casting himself as Maurizio, an engagingly gauche, mouse-of-a-man who has thus far avoided the intimate relationships he both craves and fears by busying himself at the sound studio he runs with brother Patrizio Roversi, dubbing loony effects to animated cartoons.
Enter Martina (intelligently underplayed by comic newcomer Finocchiaro), looking for a relationship of her own but meantime fully occupied with her career as a "social worker", albeit of a decidedly kinky kind : twin architects pay to watch her take a bath, husband-and-wife necrophiles to have her dress up as a nurse, a chef to ice and decorate her naked body.
That two such oddballs as Maurizio and Martina are destined to meet, as they do in the course of her work, is of course inevitable. What happens next, and here suspend all disbelief, is clearly not, with the hapless Maurizio gradually metamorphosing into a cartoon character of himself as his fear of impending intimacy with the passionate Martina increases. Hardly the basis for a full and loving relationship, one would think, but it's extraordinary what they can do with animation these days.
Indeed, technical brilliance is but one plus to this delightfully offbeat romance which has already picked up an entire raft of awards for its directors and lead actress. Packed with energy, visual and aural treats and just 92 minutes in length to boot, it's a genuine one-off, satisfaction guaranteed. Weird and absolutely wonderful.