Totally unawares, Saverio, a teacher and Mario, a janitor of the same school in which they both work, travel back in time and find themselves in central Italy at the end of the 15th century. They carry with them an unresolved squabble concerning Saverio’s sister, creating a lot of tension between the two, which will increase in the plot. From this moment on they will have to come to grips with the grotesque situation they find themselves in, trying to "hitch a lift" back to the future in a most outlandish way, using and misusing their foresight of the events taking place round that time, and generally making fools of themselves in the eyes of "normal" renaissance folks. Their meeting with Leonardo da Vinci is hysterical, when they become more and more convinced that the genius is in reality a moron. Another character they meet is Savonarola the heretic, who enjoins them to repent, before he is taken to the stake, eliciting some breezy comment from them. If it weren’t for a weird kind of homesickness, they would quite enjoy living in this period, full of daring fashions and tantalising damsels.
The couple shows great chemistry and is funny in every respect. The psychology of their characters is complex and credible - for once comical roles with a depth. Basically, Saverio is an embittered petit-bourgeois forever attracted and rejected by women, envious of Mario, an easy-going proletarian every woman falls in love with. Saverio is scheming, mean and vindictive as much as Mario is naive, generous and forgiving. What a match of talents: Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi at the peak of combined creativity. Too bad they will never come back together for another joint venture. Or maybe it is better this way: masterpieces of this level cannot be improved on, at best they can be imitated. For this reason Non ci resta che piangere will shine like a gem in the crown of the best Italian movies of all times. Sadly not many people seem to have seen it, not even in Italy, where the viewers do not need subtitles to enjoy the hilarious juggling of the two actors with the language, but their body language can be universally appreciated.
If you miss it you will have to repent!