NEW REGENCY PICTURES, SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT, WEED ROAD PICTURES, REGENCY ENTERPRISES
DISTRIBUTED BY: 0
ITALIAN DIALOGUE BY:
DUBBING ASSISTANT: Y
HANS F. ALEXANDER
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, alias Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the most beautiful, talked about, impossible couple of the moment are the box-office stars of this film that has matched them to perfection both on screen and in real life. The attempt to combine comedy and action whose boundaries harmoniously mix giving the spectator a feeling of completeness despite the difference between the two genres is just as successful. Almost like parallel universes, like Mars and Venus, made up of Mr. Smith and his wife, two professional contract killers for rival agencies who hide their real profession from their other half.
What they don’t manage to hide from one another is the fact that their marriage is in crisis, clearly understood from their talks with the marriage guidance counsellor as we see them sitting on the armchair before us. He doesn’t remember if they’ve been married for five or six years and when the counsellor asks her how things fare in their intimacy, she answers “I’m not sure I understand the question”. Perfect example of married life truthfulness, used by the director, Doug Liman in order to give some credibility to what is, ultimately, a conjugal farce enriched with action. In short, nothing remotely similar to Hitchcock’s 1941 Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Liman has totally gone over the theme, basing himself on Simon Kinberg’s screenwriting which is also Kinberg’s degree thesis at Columbia University.
Nevertheless, in the wake of a slightly faded thriller, with little to do with the Hitchcock original, the coup de theatre arrives when the killers John and Jane reveal themselves to be what they are in front of the same target (Adam Brody, famous for the extremely popular “The O.C.” series): who will survive in this new “War of the Roses”, amidst a thousand explosions, machine gun-fire, bazookas, kalashnikovs, somersaults and the more action the better? A perfect Hollywood style movie, highly effective, technological special effects as surreal as the feeling one has when admiring the perfection of the ex Lara Croft. But also a fine metaphor in which a domestic conflict can renew a lifeless marriage: quick and serrate but from the point of view of Italian adaptation, Tonino Accolla’s job could have, without doubt, have been a little more accurate simply for the reason that seeing the type of film, the stars don’t exactly deal with high level discussions.
For example, Mrs. has not been translated into Italian. In fact a young girl in the neighbourhood asks Jane and some of her friends: “What are you doing Mrs. Smith” “Cosa state facendo Mrs. Smith?” Ok, in full agreement about leaving “Mrs” in the title but in the dialogue within the film it would have been more appropriate to use the Italian translation of “signora”. The same can be said about John when he says to his wife “Sei pur sempre Mrs. Smith” (“you’re still Mrs. Smith”). Again, in a later scene he serves her champagne, calling her “Mrs.” and certainly not ‘madam’, or much less ‘m’lady’ which correspond to the English appellative used when you address someone without calling them by their surname. Let’s hope it’s only carelessness and not something to help the public identify the two actors on screen with the characters in the title.
Even when the two lovebirds, besides using all the imaginable weapons that the moment and their profession requires, insult each other, they use improbable terms of endearment like “little shit” for example which do correspond however with their lip movements.
Well chosen however is the “be cool” expression (which John says to himself) with “sii freddo”. Cool is a much used word/expression in the English language and its use varies in meaning according to the context. In this case, “cool” “freddo” is a more than adequate translation seeing as Mr. Smith is working and has to be calm and cool blooded. However the closure of his lips which we see on screen when he pronounces the phoneme /u:/ of the double vowel oo of cool is not the same we would have had if Pitt was actually articulating the /e/ of “freddo” in Italian where the lips would be stretched and half closed.
We come across other examples in this sense during the fight which sees our two allied heroes against their rival agencies and in the finale. In the first case, husband and wife are attacked by rival task forces within their own home so much so that they arm themselves thoroughly and begin to establish the strategy for their defence and counterattack. In doing this they have to move warily and in silence therefore they can’t talk. They use gestures and in certain shots but you can see perfectly Pitt and Jolie saying “you” (“tu”) whilst gesticulating to indicate what decisions have to be made and who has to take them. In cases like this, dubbing limitations are acute: in a flash, the fiction which one laboriously tries to achieve with dubbing, collapses.
It is obligatory however to avoid any translation errors in both the linguistic and semantic aspect of the text to be adapted, like the disastrous fall in the dubbing style which, as far as “Mr.and Mrs. Smith is concerned, does not seem to be present, and neither do we find big translation errors in so far as the adaptation of the dialogue, which, although impossible to define as being natural, does at least come across as probable.
The direction though is better: the dubbing voices of Sandro Acerbo and Claudia Cattani, let alone their acting, excellently convey the expression of Pitt and Jolies’ blue eyes, who seem to resort to the Stanislavsky method, used by many actors to recall their own emotional memories and personal experiences in order to bring life to the role.
I must say, in all honesty, that whilst I was sitting before the big screen, waiting in trepidation to hear the voices of the two spouse-killers in the Italian version, I was almost convinced I would hear Giuppy Izzo, whose seductive voice would have further highlighted Jolie’s femme-fatale allure (to which apparently the break-up of Pitt and Aniston’s marriage is attributed). For this reason “Mr.& Mrs. Smith” could go down in history as having created a ripe occasion for the two stars. Even more so given that the glazed media over-exposure of this front-page love-story has no doubt contributed to the nearly 200 million dollar film sales in the USA.
The Hollywood gossip did not have the same effect in Italy, seeing as up to the 22nd January the film had earned a little more than seven and a half million euros and had achieved only 39th place at the box-office.
[original review in Italian by Marica Rizzo]