Netflixable? Italian comedy “The Players (Gli Infideli)” looks for pearls among swine

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Here’s a lightweight little Italian collection of short films on the subject “Italian men are pigs.” Enjoy.

Well, try to enjoy “The Players (Gli Infideli).”

A handful of solid Italian performers — anchored by Riccardo Scamarcio (“Loro,” “John Wick Chapter 2”), Valerio Mastandrea (“Pasolini,” “Nine”)  Laura Chiatti (“Somewhere,” “Il volto di un’altra”) and Valentina Cervi (“Jane Eyre,” TV’s “True Blood”) — play assorted characters in a string of stereotypically “Italian” marriages.

Ergo, the men cheat, dream of cheating or sneak into porn clubs, the women suspect, spy on them and do a lot of screaming when the confrontation comes.

Not in every “marriage.” Not in every story. But pretty much.

A shrew shouts accusations at her spouse all the way through the airport, toning it down only when they board their flight to a vacation.

“Would I cheat on you just before we go to the Maldives?” isn’t much of a defense.

A dull, and bored husband (Mastandrea) uses “the game” as his excuse for slipping out every night for a little hit-the-peep-show adventure. But he keeps coming home with torn underwear. His seamstress wife (Marina Foïs) can’t help but get suspicious.

The owlish, curly-haired Scarmacio plays a collection of disparate creeps — the husband who self-peddles his infidelities to friends at a dinner party, while his wife is in the kitchen, a 1970s English toothed yard dog who hits on everything with a skirt during a corporate retreat, and a man whose wife (Chiatti) tracks him to a hotel, but manages the best “Who me?” act of them all.

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Here’s a very serious hole in “Gil Infideli,” as  “The Players” is titled in Italy.

The characters aren’t so different that one picks up on “Oh, this is a collection of SHORT films.” Scamarcio, save for that one character who wears false teeth, could be the same guy, first short to last.

Mastandrea may be bald here, stubbly there, and the characters have more pronounced personality differences. But most of them are just variations on a piggish theme.

“It’s…ancestral. I’m a man!”

Chiatti and Cervi have just a couple of moments to shine in the most interesting of the episodes, with Cervi’s highlight a wife who tricks/badgers her husband into revealing his cheating, and Chiatti having a couple of over-the-top meltdowns in a couple of different shorts.

But those are mere comic crumbs when one expects a meal, or at least a dessert.

The idea here was some sort of “Divorce, Italian Style” romp. But there’s no romping to this, no particularly funny lines (in Italian with English subtitles), a near chuckle from a broad bit of comedy here and there.

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MPAA Rating: TV-MA, adult themes.

Cast: Riccardo Scamarcio, Valentina Cervi, Valerio Mastandrea, Laura Chiatti

Credits: Directed by Stefano Mordini, script by Filippo Bologna, Stefano Mordini.   A Netflix release.

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