Keeping up appearances in front of the neighbours takes constant attention to detail and clever tactics. And it is especially important when we are in the economically booming Italy of the 1960s, where the race is on to acquire consumer goods such as a fridge, a car, or a television set. Meanwhile, young people are rebelling – embracing revolutionary politics, rock music and… yoga!
Teresa Brandolini’s mission of upholding her family’s dignity and respectability, while the neighbours flaunt their superior spending power, requires her to maintain an elaborate smokescreen for onlookers (‘fumo negli occhi’) – a labour of love into which her teenage daughter, eternal-student son and long-suffering husband are co-opted. When her arch-rival, signora De Marchi, brags that she is off to the Isle of Capri just for the weekend, Teresa plans her revenge, Brandolini-style! Will she win out in the reputation stakes, or will the antics of family members, the maid, and an oppressed, non-unionised burglar spin things wildly out of her control?