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Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet, is exiled to a small island for political reasons. On the island, the unemployed son of a poor fisherman is hired as an extra postman due to the huge increase in mail that this causes. Il Postino is to hand-deliver the celebrity's mail to him. Though poorly educated, the postman learns to love poetry and eventually befriends Neruda. Struggling to grow and express himself more fully, he suddenly falls in love and needs Neruda's help and guidance more than ever. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
With the possible exception of Shakespeare, perhaps, who can explain matters of the heart? For love can be that most elusive of butterflies, as a smitten young man discovers in 'Il Postino,' directed by Michael Radford. There's a bit of 'Cyrano' in this tale of Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi), a somewhat unprepossessing part time mailman (he has but one customer) who falls for a local beauty, Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), but has no idea how to pursue the longings of his heart. But as luck would have it, Mario's customer just happens to be Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret), a South American expatriate who is also a world renown poet recently exiled to this small island off the coast of Italy. Not wanting to make a pest of himself, Mario only very gradually strikes up an acquaintance with Neruda, while his love for Beatrice goes unrequited. Once Neruda is apprised of Mario's situation however, he begins to instruct him in the art of regarding the world around him in terms of metaphor, as well as how to thus express himself. Soon Mario is composing poetry of his own, with hopes of not only attracting Beatrice's attention, but of winning her heart.
It's a warm and touching story that plays to the heart, rather than the intellect, and will capture you with it's humanity. There is nothing singular about Mario; he is nondescript, just an average guy, and it illustrates that common bond among us all, that of having wants and needs to be expressed and fulfilled-- especially with regards to matters of the heart-- for as Mario discovers, love knows no boundaries.
Troisi gives a strong performance as Mario, but is almost too retiring to be effective, though his character contrasts well with that of Noiret's Neruda, whose zest for life is more readily apparent. Still, it's that underplayed sense of the 'Everyman' that Troisi conveys so well that allows the audience to relate to him. Anyone who has ever yearned for the affections of that special someone will be able to identify with Mario. Ironically, it's his benign manner that makes him-- as contradictory as it may seem-- so memorable and forgettable at the same time, perhaps depending upon the emotional investment the individual viewer is disposed to make. As the poet Neruda, Noiret gives a notable performance, lending the character the sense of one who has known celebrity, yet is nonetheless still somewhat accessible. And in him you can readily perceive a true poetic nature-- though somewhat self-centered-- which gives the character credibility and makes him real.
The supporting cast includes Linda Moretti (Donna Rosa), Renato Scarpa (Telegrapher), Mariano Rigillo (Di Cosimo) and Anna Bonaiuto (Matilde). A romantic film in every sense of the word, 'Il Postino' nevertheless transcends the romantic and takes a somewhat anticlimactic turn that encompasses loyalty and passion to a cause, as well as love. In the end, it's a lyrical, pacific film that seeks to discern the beauty in all things, and certainly makes a statement about the nature of life and love. I rate this one 7/10.
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