The ancient game of calcio storico, played in one Italian city for a brief period of each summer, proves rejuvenating for the brokenhearted American at the center of “Lost in Florence.” For the audience, it’s the only intriguing element in a seemingly tourist-bureau-sanctioned travelogue posing as a romantic drama.
Brett Dalton plays American tourist Eric, an aspiring NFL player whose ultra-whimsical proposal to his girlfriend (Emily Atack) is the first sign of trouble — for viewers as well as Colleen. She promptly flees their Florentine holiday. Those with more staying power will find a despondent Eric extending his stay with his cousin (Stana Katic) and her Italian husband (Marco Bonini). The latter introduces him to calcio, a gladiatorial free-for-all that’s a precursor of rugby and soccer.
Incorporating footage of actual matches and the associated pageantry, writer-director Evan Oppenheimer acknowledges the roughness of the seasonal game, if not its extreme brutality. And despite all the museum-guide historical info funneled into dialogue, there’s no mention of the fact that it was Mussolini who revived the 15th-century sport.
Whatever its roots, Eric proves a natural and talks his way onto the Santo Spirito squad, giving it a shot at the championship after a five-year losing streak. That he also becomes secretly involved with Stefania (Alessandra Mastronardi), the girlfriend of team captain Paolo (Alessandro Preziosi), provides the supposed friction in this bland match-up between tidy plans and unpredictable life.
‘Lost in Florence’
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also on VOD