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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>
'Il Postino' is a love story between men. There's something poetic about that, in this movie about love & poetry. Neither of them is gay, mind you. In fact, a ravishing beauty (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) is the object of the title character's affection. Still, this movie belongs to Philippe Noiret and the Oscar-nominated Massimo Troisi. Noiret is a Chilean poet, exiled in Italy for his communist leanings. Troisi is the postman, a man going nowhere who comes to idolize this intelligent poet. They become friends and Noiret essentially Cyranos Troisi into Cucinotta's ample heart.
I didn't find the entire film to be heart-rending, but the final scenes add deep resonance to the material. My eyebrows were raised when the movie ended and there was a "For Massimo" credit. Troisi died less than a day after they finished shooting. It seems fitting that the end of the film is bittersweet because the cast & crew had been working with a dying man who wanted nothing more than to finish this final project. 'Il Postino' ended up grossing a boatload of money, so his subtle performance clearly struck a chord with audiences.
Troisi got all the press for his fine work, but Noiret is certainly his equal. Director Michael Radford does well to stay out of their way. I like how he didn't sentimentalize the Troisi/Cucinotta relationship. He's infatuated with her, but that diminishes a bit once he gets her. They're a fair representation of a real couple who were brought together for what might have been the wrong reasons. In fact, the film is filled with surprises. It's a quiet character study, but all the players in 'Il Postino' go through earth-shaking changes of personal proportions. And the Noiret/Troisi friendship is right at the heart of the matter.
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