Black and White (Italian: Bianco e nero) is a 2008 Italian romance film directed by Cristina Comencini. The film deals with race and inter-racial relationships when the married Carlo falls in love with Nadine (Aïssa Maïga), the wife of his own wife's work colleague.
Carlo and Elena have been married six years; they have a daughter and their married life has settled into a rut. Elena is a cultural mediator who manages an association against racism, whereas Carlo is a computer engineer who has little in common with his wife.
Bertrand is Elena’s colleague, and husband to Nadine, with whom he has two children. The events of the film unfold after Carlo meets Nadine, a fascinating and elegant Senegalese, employed in the Senegalese embassy in Rome. The two are swept away by an unexpected complicity which becomes a clandestine relationship.
The expectations and prejudices of their two families come to the fore when their affair is revealed, and the new couple have to make important decisions.
According to the review of film education, the film’s reviews weren’t entirely positive. Some reviewers felt frustration that the film’s premise didn’t allow the shades of grey that were indicated in the trailer, and dealt too simplistically with the issues. Centring the narrative on two wealthy families also received strong criticism, as this representation moves the narrative away from the real world, with the African population of Italy remaining largely working class. According to many, the film would have been more educational if it featured two protagonists from a less privileged social class.
The social divides suggested by the film are far from the Italian reality: today in Italy there are different ethnic minorities that suffer marginalisation, whereas the African community is not ghettoised in Piazza Vittorio, as the film would have us believe.
A last and sadly telling fact of the production is that no Italian sponsor was willing to provide the French actors clothes; this fact confirms that even today, racist attitudes persist in Italian society.
Read the full review in PDF at www.filmeducation.org