ROME (Reuters Life!) - "Easy Virtue," a bubbly comedy based on Noel Coward's play about English high society in the 1920s, has emerged as a hot favorite to win the best film award at the Rome festival, which winds up on Friday.
Italian daily Corriere della Sera called the film, a British production directed by Australian Stephan Elliott, "a little gem" and gave it 3-1/2 stars out of four -- its highest marks for a movie screening in the main 20-title competition.
La Repubblica newspaper also tipped the film as a winner for its witty dialogues, praising actress Jessica Biel's performance as a glamorous and free-spirited American woman storming into the lives on an old-fashioned English aristocratic family.
France's "With a Little Help from Myself," about a family of African immigrants in the suburbs of Paris, was another favorite, while "Galantuomini," about a female mafia boss, was the most applauded of the six Italian films in the contest.
The race for the best film award ended on a light note with "With A Warm Heart" by Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi, a grotesque comedy which screened on Wednesday as the last competition film of the festival.
It tells the story of a rich oligarch in search of a donor for a heart transplant who sets his sights on a jobless young man bent on committing suicide.
The unscrupulous businessman, a symbol of eastern Europe's new wealthy, is played by Bohdan Stupka, one of Ukraine's most famous stage actors and a former culture minister.
(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Paul Casciato)