A lot of the plotting in "Facing Windows" comes straight out of your standard soap opera.

This Italian-made drama has a tendency for over-the-top melodrama, which detracts from some fairly decent performances. In addition, the film's European sensibilities — in particular, the attitudes here toward marital fidelity and obligations — are off-putting and make at least one main character less sympathetic and, therefore, less interesting.

That would be Giovanna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), a wife and mother of two. Her husband, Filippo (Filippo Nigro), is pretty much a professional failure, working two jobs just to make ends meet. And, as you might suspect, that has led to tension between the two and a lingering feeling of resentment.

That only worsens when Filippo brings home a "stray," an elderly man (Massimo Girotti) who can't remember his name or where he's from. Giovanna gets caught up in the search to find the old man's true identity, and as she discovers more about him and his past, she finds herself inspired to take some chances in her life.

She has a fling with Lorenzo (Raoul Bova), the bachelor living in a nearby apartment. And she also begins pursuing her dream of becoming a pastry chef. Both pursuits have some eerie parallels to the old man's past.

To be fair, the film does have one really terrific performance — Mezzogiorno, as the conflicted young wife. However, her character's actions seem contradictory and not very well thought out.

Still, hers is the only character that is really fleshed out. Co-screenwriter/director Ferzan Oztepek clearly wants to put the focus on her, but in doing so, all he's created is a shallow melodrama that seems more suited to daytime television or one of those Lifetime cable network movies.

"Facing Windows" is rated R for occasional use of strong sexual profanity and crude slang terms, simulated sex, brief female nudity, violence (a brawl and some war violence, overheard), and use of some racial epithets and ethnic slurs. Running time: 106 minutes.

E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com