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Friday, April 23, 2021

Parastology: Rome Rewrites a Grim Tale of Scandal

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Italy’s embrace of postmodern Catholicism has a few insights that haven’t yet made it to the English-speaking world, much less America. Among them: When people parade around during church services in short, stark outfits, they aren’t expressing desire for “sparkles.”

So said a sour-faced priest to a young parishioner during mass in Jules Verne’s Italian-language adventure novel The Gods of Fortune. The description may be Italian, but you can generally tell a smart-aleck from a curmudgeon when they’re sitting beside each other at a parishioner’s wedding.

Juliette Binoche and Daniela Bianchi in “The Goddess of Fortune.” (Toho)

“The Gods of Fortune” is a light-hearted play on pre-Victorian class difference. In 1665 Rome, a wealthy lawyer begins dating the beautiful but troubled Sophia Aloi (Juliette Binoche), but the passion turns into a deadly attempt to win her wealth through gambling when she hits on the very nice member of a rival family, Ciro (Daniela Bianchi). It takes the combined wiles of the lawyer and croupier, Benoit (Antonio Albanese), for them to win. But after they lose all of their money, Benoit and Sophia are left to fix the marriage of a third family member: the philandering Philippe (Marti Majumdar).

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