On Thursday September 4, Palace Cinemas launched the 15th Lavazza Italian Film Festival. They screened the Australian premiere of the Italian Golden Globe winner for Best Comedy, Smetto Quando Voglio (I Can Quit Whenever I Want), directed by Sydney Sibilia.

I Can Quit Whenever I Want was a highly successful, but perhaps dubious choice for the official launch, as the script doesn’t just borrow but steals from the Emmy Award winning American television series, Breaking Bad. I Can Quit Whenever I Want stars Edoardo Leo, as Pietro Zinni, a retrenched academic with ever increasing debts, who draws together a gang of similarly destitute past lecturers to make fast, hard and seemingly easy money by creating a “technically legal” designer drug which mimics the performance of the best psychotropics on the market.

Despite the legal grey area Pietro cleverly carves out for himself, the story concept bears a marked resemblance to Breaking Bad and in some scenes, such as the original drug making in Pietro’s old university lab, moments are directly stolen. However, this film is set apart by its acid colour scheme (reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), the far more likeable Pietro, and the tragic comedy with an Italian bent.

The thoroughly enjoyable I Can Quit Whenever I Want is just one of the 34 stunning new Italian features that The Lavazza Italian Film Festival will showcase at Palace Cinemas in Sydney. For those of you who non parlano italiano, each film is subtitled in English. The festival opens on September 18 with Marina, a biopic of singer and accordionist Rocco Granata, directed by Stijn Coninx, and closes on October 12 with a newly digitised Marriage Italian Style, directed by Vittorio De Sica and starring Sophia Loren.

Rating: 4/5