Three friends walk through Rome, Paolo, Riccardo and Gemma. It's night and they're celebrating their reunion, because Paolo and Gemma lost sight of each other after they left him, and Riccardo has long been an outsider as a film critic, separated from his wife and child. Through the alleys of the old town you get to the Trevi Fountain. The place in front of the baroque water features is empty, and so Riccardo got the idea to step into the pool like Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni once did. Gemma follows him. But they don't kiss. They are waiting for Paolo to complete the group picture. But Paolo refuses. They are frivolous and disrespectful, he complains before turning around and leaving. Riccardo runs after them, and for a moment Gemma in her red dress is all alone in the most famous of all fountains.

Andreas Kilb

Feuilleton correspondent in Berlin.

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Gabriele Muccino's film “To everything that makes us happy” aims to be a lot at once, a love and friendship story, a chronicle of an era, an image of society and a homage to the cinema. The threads of the various stories drift apart again and again, but in individual moments they come together, and the most telling is the Trevi episode. Muccino not only cites the legendary scene from Fellini's “Dolce Vita”, but also a film in which the scene itself appears as a quote, Ettore Scola's “We were so in love” from 1974. At Scola Fellini and Mastroianni are currently shooting the Kiss in the fountain when the protagonists of the story appear. In the case of Muccino, on the other hand, the scene is empty. The fountain scene only takes place in the heads of Gemma, Paolo and Riccardo.That could be the chance for a fresh start. But Muccinos characters lack the strength for this. Like their director.

"Our generation screwed up"

Regarded without historical brackets, “To everything that makes us happy” is the story of four young people from the provinces who all end up in Rome. The old song, but with new, bitter tones. As a child, Paolo lost his father, Gemma her mother. Riccardo is hit by a stray bullet during a demonstration and barely survives. Giulio, the fourth, suffers from the poverty in which he grows up. The joke of the film is that Muccino resolutely dissolves these little tragedies with pleasure. It is as if he did not trust his heroes to endure the misfortune he inflicted on them. Only Giulio, played by Muccino's favorite actor Pierfrancesco Favino, remains under the spell of his childhood. Driven by a craving for recognitionhe takes Paolo out of his childhood sweetheart Gemma and lets himself be hired as legal advisor to a corrupt politician of the Berlusconi era. In the end he is stuck in his wealth like in a straitjacket. But his life path has at least a certain symbolism of contemporary history, while the fates of the other three seem merely coincidental.

The connection to current events, which Ettore Scola was the backbone of the story, tries to create Muccino in the decor. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the September 11 attacks and AC Milan's European Cup victory are on screens, while Paolo Gemma meets again, a couple separates or the friends celebrate reconciliation. A real chronicle is not created in this way, the story and the story remain foreign to each other. This robs the self-accusation of the characters, which Muccino, like so much else, took over from Scola, of their diagnostic power. “Our generation screwed up”, it was said fifty years ago, and Muccino's heroes continued the lament with the remark that they had behaved “like little boys” (“ragazzini”). But you don't see a generation, just a bunch of individuals in their entanglements. In "On everything,what makes us happy “everyone fights for himself, for a job, a love, a child.

Perhaps, however, this is precisely where the film's time diagnosis consists.

In any case, there is no reason to turn up your nose at this two-hour Italian sheet of pictures.

While German cinema is turning the wheel of films about mothers, fathers, teenagers and marital problems until it drops, Muccino has at least dared to leap from the same to less secure terrain.

The fact that he ended up in the same place again is possibly due to the circumstances that he describes as well as to himself. What would happen if a German director of today were to make a remake of a classic by Fassbinder or Wenders?

You'd rather not even imagine it.

Keywords: paolo gemma, i followgabriele muccino, riccardo, reunion, gemma, place, fountain scene, sight, wife, alleys, town, front, water features, each other, film