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MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Actor Dustin Hoffman has generated rave reviews for decades but is now drawing boos for his stumbling Italian in a filmed tourism spot for the country's Marche region.
In the ad, Hoffman reads aloud the poem "L'Infinito" ("The Infinite") by 19th century Marche writer Giacomo Leopardi while on stage and strolling through the central Italian area's hills and a town.
The TV and movie theater campaign featuring the two-time Oscar-winner is set to be launched in January. A preliminary version of the ad is available online on YouTube. here
But critics are already targeting Hoffman for his faulty Italian. In the ad, the leather-jacketed 72-year-old actor repeatedly shakes his head in frustration, at one point exclaiming, "Nowhere in English!"
"The commitment is there" but Hoffman's pronunciation "cannot fill up the astronomical distance from the Italian ear", Elsa Muschella wrote in Milan daily Corriere della Sera.
Hoffman "stumbles on the eternal words" of Leopardi, she said.
Comments by dozens of YouTube viewers largely condemned the spot as unimaginative and a waste of public money.
"Dustin Hoffman and the Marche go together like the Dalai Lama doing a spot for Las Vegas," one viewer said.
Marche Governor Gian Mario Spacca said on the YouTube site the spot was an early version and could be changed.
He told Corriere della Sera: "The difficulty that Hoffman finds in the recitation could symbolize the more universal one of coming closer to an unknown culture."
Reporting by Ian Simpson, editing by Paul Casciato