Michael Winterbottom’s sequel to The Trip is somewhat like Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy in that we follow a couple through a set period of time and leave them with an ambiguous ending. It’s been four years since we were last with Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden, played brilliantly by, ahem, Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden. When we catch up, things have certainly changed, but we only become privy to what as the film progresses.
Whilst still mostly improvised, the narrative is decidedly more focused than The Trip, with Steve almost taking a backseat this time round to allow the story to unfurl around Rob. He’s becoming disillusioned with his lot and, whilst Steve begins to embrace early nights and fatherhood, Rob is gazing out of the windows of high class Italian hotels looking for something more than being able to impersonate Tom Jones.
But look, it’s not all about shoegazing, as what made The Trip so brilliant is on full display here as Steve and Rob sit down each day for food, drink and outdoing each other in the impersonation department. Particular highlights include Rob’s brilliant impersonation of Michael Parkinson and a discussion about the real reason why Tom Hardy is so hard to understand in The Dark Knight Rises.
With sparkling dialogue and scenery as delicious as the food, The Trip to Italy is eager to please and completely successful at doing so.