Revisiting the relationship that we first saw onscreen in 2005’s Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story, The Trip To Italy shows Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon continuing their gastronomic adventures that began in 2010’s The Trip, this time working across the Italian countryside.

Michael Winterbottom has long been obscuring the line between reality and fiction in his films – 2002’s 24 Hour Party People frequently breaks the fourth wall in telling the story of music journalist Tony Wilson, while 2004’s 9 Songs tells a fictional love story between two rock music devotees but incorporates unsimulated sex. The Trip To Italy continues this obscuration.

The film sees both comedians playing fictional versions of themselves that tend to enhance and challenge different aspects of their public personae. Coogan’s reputation as a lothario and a bit of a wanker has been built on in all three Winterbottom films, while Brydon has tended to play up his amiability. The relationship between the two has slowly changed over the course of the series, but Winterbottom still manages to avoid messing with the formula while keeping the relationship from getting stale.

Like The Trip, this film starts off at a slow burn but quickly moves into the hilarity that this collaboration has become known for. Again, there is clearly a lot of improvisation and a whole stack of new and old impersonations thrown in. Brydon’s overuse of the word ‘affable’ in the first 15 minutes had me completely cracking up, as did the pair’s exploration of the range of vocals in The Dark Knight Rises. The cinematography is breathtaking, as is the Italian food porn, and as with all of Winterbottom’s comedies, scattered throughout the hilarity there is realism and sensitivity that really catches you off guard. All in all The Trip To Italy is hilarious and surprisingly moving; definitely worth some repeat watching.

4.5/5 stars

The Trip To Italyopens in cinemas Thursday May 29.

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