We first meet witty yet fatigued psychoanalyst Elia Venezia after a day at work as he picks up his wife after Friday services at her synagogue in Rome. His neighbor has disabled the lift in their building for Shabbat, and his sad state of fitness becomes clear long before he reaches the third flight of stairs to their apartment.
A quick trip to the doctor confirms his immediate need to diet and work out.
A visit to a disco gym and a bad experience with a spin class bring him to exuberant Zumba instructor and personal trainer Claudia, about whom Elia initially says, “I prefer diabetes to someone like her.”
Faced with the need for a regimen, however, he chooses her as the least of three evils.
So begins the action in the Italian film “Let Yourself Go.” Claudia is a good foil for the crusty, stingy and inflexible Elia. The two develop a spicy repertoire and an easy professional affection, and, through their time together, he begins to make necessary changes.
Somewhere around midway, however, things go awry. With the entrance of a too-greasy ex-boyfriend and an overly mischievous child, things turn from believable to farcical, and the winner of the 2017 Italian Golden Globe for best comedy shifts from endearing and entertaining to slapstick.
While it is easy to like Claudia’s good nature and boundless energy, her lack of good judgment, penchant for deception and tendency for hijinks stretch the boundaries of even the most receptive viewer. At 98 minutes, “Let Yourself Go” is a good half an hour too long.
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screening: Feb. 15, 7 p.m., Cobb Energy