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Malena is a beautiful and deeply touching film. It is a masterful combination of sites, sounds and colors. The two leading actors (Monica Bellucci and Giuseppe Sulfaro) are simply excellent at what they are supposed to convey in this movie. Apart from her truly majestic elegance, Monica Bellucci invests her character (Malena) with an aura of tragedy, of some profound and unrelenting emotional trauma and pain which remains unspoken throughout the film and reaches its climax at the very end. Malena's stunningly beautiful eyes remain constantly downcast, and her face -- tense and pierced through by psychic pain (she rarely raises her face, let alone speaks words). Renato (the teenage boy) wins his audience by his incredibly pure and valiant love for Malena (this affection he carries in his heart for several years). She becomes his muse, his courage, his sense of honor, his whole rationale for confronting difficult and disruptive life of the war-torn Italy. I agree completely with another commentator who said that the ending of the movie is perhaps one of the most genuinely melancholic moments in modern cinematography. Simply brilliant. Superb music! This movie should be watched several times to be fully appreciated.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Malena is a film that gives the impression that there are no innocent
parties. The men are guilty of dirty, lustful thoughts (and some of
more than just thoughts), the women are guilty of gossip, violence and
probably more than a little envy, and Malena is guilty of being a
homewrecker. But in looking back at the movie it seems that what caused
the problems were two things gossip and something like insecurity.
Roger Ebert wrote probably the most idiotic review I've ever seen him come out with about this movie. He missed the point of this movie even more than he missed the point of Memento, and his review of that movie was like a blind man describing a shooting star. He describes Malena as a schoolteacher "of at least average intelligence, who must be aware of her effect on the collective local male libido, but seems blissfully oblivious."
Roger, seriously, are you joking? BLISSFULLY?? Did you sleep through this movie?
She almost never speaks at all and never displays even the slightest hint of a smile. Given the extent of her depression and stifling sadness, it is astounding to me that anyone in their right mind could attach the word "blissfully" to any element of her character.
I know what that's like though, because sometimes I completely miss something about a movie and I think that something else is the stupidest thing in the world because of it, at least until someone explains what I missed and then it all makes sense. Watch Malena, for example, walking through the central square in town at any point in the movie. If you think she keeps her eyes on the ground directly in front of her because she is in a state of pure, ignorant bliss, then trust me. You are missing something.
I don't know if Malena was actually unaware of the effect that she had on the townspeople, but I find it nearly impossible to believe that she did. That thought actually never even occurred to me until I read Roger Ebert's gem of a review. Her behavior struck me much more like someone who had been dealing with such behavior from the men around for her whole life. I doubt very much that she doesn't understand the concepts of human physical attraction.
Moving on. Set against the backdrop of World War II reminded me of Life is Beautiful, especially given the uncertain mix of comedy and tragedy. It wasn't as powerful on both sides here as in Life is Beautiful, but it was truly heartbreaking to see Malena suffering and trying to ignore the increasing tension that was being generated around her.
It's hard to say that she was a victim of her own beauty, but it was really what drove all of the conflict in the story. The women at first seemed to be upset with their husbands because of their stares, and things got worse and worse because of the endless gossip which seemed to monopolize the talk of the entire town. If anyone was talking about anything, it had something to do with the latest sexual escapades of Malena.
Women would not sell her good food at the town market, so she had to get it from men who expected things in return. There was a scene where an officer was at her home, but I don't think there was any indication that they had sex. It was clear that he was more interested than she was, and later it was her that wound up in court for having an amorous relationship with a married man in uniform. The courtroom performance of Malena's lawyer, by the way, is one of the highlights of the movie.
I'm not really sure how to feel about the women involved in the climax of their collective hatred of Malena, because surely Malena did not sleep with the husband of every woman involved, and of those whose husbands committed no crime other than looking at a beautiful woman, what did they then think of their wives, who would do such a thing out of pure jealousy and envy? I'm a man myself; so I can't speak from a woman's point of view, but if your husband cheats on you, take it out on him. Don't go and beat up the subject of his affections, especially if it is nothing more than a beautiful woman that he looked at. Imagine all of the attractive women beaten up without knowing why.
Weaving his way throughout all of this chaos is Renato, a 12-year-old boy who has conceptualized Malena as the ideal woman in all ways. He sees himself as her protector, desperate to save her from the tension that he sees growing around her, the unfair antagonism that is being leveled at her, for really no fault of her own. His identification of Malena as the subject of his developing sexuality reminded me of another great film, The Hairdresser's Husband. If you liked this, see that one, too. Oh and if you're Roger Ebert, maybe watch this one again.
And stay awake this time.
The first time I got to watch this utterly beautiful film, I knew
nothing of the awesomeness of Giusseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso) or
the ethereal beauty of Monica Bellucci.
Well, all the needed knowledge flooded my mind within the two hours I spent watching Malena. It's a coming-of-age film, set in the World War 2 years in a small town of Sicily. The main lead is a young boy named Renato, and through his perfectly understandable obsession of a married woman named Malena (there couldn't be a more perfect cast than Monica Bellucci in this role),we get to see him maturing over a few years time. Most of the team focuses on Malena of course, but it's all through Renato's eyes (he's stalking her all the time), and his affection for her. It's no wonder that all males in the town (even teenagers) mostly view her as a hot piece of meat, but this boy's pure love is what eventually makes the difference in his (and her) life.
The ending credits will leave you with the "life goes on" aftermath and possibly the strongest feeling of melancholy you ever achieved from a movie.
Great cinematography, excellent performances from Monica Bellucci(though she barely speaks throughout the film) and the boy playing Renato, amazing score by the grand Maestro Ennio Morricone (nominated for an Oscar), this film has become my absolute favourite and Monica Bellucci my most recent (and strongest) obsession! A perfect 10, though it might seem over the top to a few of you.
I found the film to be visually hypnotic and very moving. I was also impressed with the film maker's story telling technique. The film brought me into the bustling street life of the Sicilian village by eye-level camera work and the comments of the people in crowded scenes, through which I was taken with the characters. Just like walking down a busy urban street anywhere with your ears and eyes open. The film made me wake up to the fact that so much American film, perhaps all contemporary film, is composed mainly of close ups with two or a few people. Not this film. There is a sequence with airplanes overhead that is absolutely dizzying without any fancy 3-D or pyrotechnic effects. Mr. Tornatore brilliantly uses silent stares, pairs of eyes and silly dream sequences with amazing effect. The male lead, an adolescent boy, is portrayed with great empathy by Giuseppe Sulfaro without schmaltz or sanitizing, so typical in American films about puberty. The title role, played well by a dazzling Monica Bellucci, could have been written for a young Sophia Loren. (My dream sequence, I guess) My favorite character was Renato's father, hilariously played by Luciano Federico. A must see.
What a beautiful surprise. I loved Malena for its honesty, simplicity and the way it portrayed the life of the young boy in the early 40's. It reminded my of a lot of good movies I have seen throughout my life. Malena is one of those movies that gets stuck in your mind. I enjoyed the movie very much and recommend it to all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In a way, "Malena" kept reminding us of a famous photograph by Ruth
Orkin, in which a young American woman is seen walking alone in an
Italian street where there must be at least twenty men ogling this
beautiful beautiful creature in different degrees of desire, shouting
things about what they would love to do with her.
In Giuseppe Tornatore's "Malena", the young woman at the center of the story, suffers that kind of sexual predatory practice from all the men in the little town in Sicily where she lives. It appears Italian men, then, as well as now, can express anything at all, especially for their big friends' benefit, their opinions of how they feel about a woman. Even the town's ladies have no qualms in shouting nasty things as Malena passes them by.
If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you would like to stop reading.
The film takes place during the last days of WWII. Malena's husband has gone to war, but he never returns. She is left to fend for herself under the most extreme circumstances. In order to make ends meet, all the men in town offer Malena anything so they can get favors from her in return.
Watching all this is Renato, a young man who has reached puberty and is completely taken by Malena's beauty. Renato follows this woman all over the town. Whenever Malena is coming into view, Renato abandons his bicycle and makes a point to pass near this gorgeous creature almost breathing her aura.
A lot of people in this forum have expressed their views in making "Malena" a coming of age film. But contrary to what they might take, Mr. Tornatore, its director, like most film makers in Europe are influenced by the politics and the history of their country. In here, it appears that Malena stands for the way Italy was manipulated by Mussolini in transforming the country into a fascist paradise. Also Malena, like Italy, is turned into a prostitute in the eyes of many Italians, who watched their beloved country invaded by the Germans, who were supposed to be their allies.
"Malena" is a film that is blessed by the presence of that amazingly beautiful actress Monica Belucci. Ms. Belucci is perfect for the title role and runs away with the film. In one of the most hear wrenching scenes in this movie, we watch in horror as the other women in town have their revenge in punishing Malena for what they perceive are her sins and her collaboration with the enemy.
Young Giuseppe Sulfaro is seen as the appealing Renato Amoroso, the young man awakening to his own sexuality. He lives just to spy on the woman that has captured his imagination, and even in his solitary gratification she plays a large role in his vivid imagination.
"Malena" owes a lot to Giuseppe Tornatore for what he has been able to accomplish.
When this movie was released the buzz was huge... Mostly because it
starred the walking-talking male fantasy, Monica Bellucci. It did the
rounds around various Film Festivals and even the most skeptical
critics were won over. They were won over by many things... The scenery
is stunning, making you feel like you're really in Sicily. The acting
is subtle but superb. And it's this that is most shocking. Monica
Bellucci was, when this film was released, a model-turning-actress.
No-one expected her to actually be good, and we were right, she wasn't
good... she is amazing in this film!! Bellucci has very little
dialogue, she has to use body language and facial expressions... most
people would agree this is much more difficult. Since this film, she
has gone on to be Italy's most successful acting export for years. With
roles in Matrix 2 & 3, Tears Of The Sun, and the truly ground-breaking
Irreversible, she has proved herself time and time again! What her
character goes through is heartbreaking and, through Bellucci's acting
and the wonderful performance given by protagonist narrator Renato
(Giuseppe Sulfaro), we experience everything she does.
At times the movie is hilarious, particularly when detailing the lengths the men of the village will go to just to catch glimpse of Malena. Mostly though, the film shows how jealousy and subsequent hatred can destroy anything and anyone. This movie will stay with you for a very long time!!
A gorgeous, voluptuous woman is the object of attention in this World
War II period piece, set in an Italian town. The star is a horny
13-year-old who fantasizes about a relationship with this grown woman,
"Malena," a sexy lady who gets all the mens' attention in the town, and
all the wrath of the jealous town women.
This is a strange film at times but beautifully filmed and almost always interesting. Monica Bellucci is indeed a feast for any male's eyes. She is almost beyond description, looks-wise. What happens to her, unfairly, near the end is not pleasant. Otherwise, it's a pretty humorous film in segments, especially with dialog between the young kid and his dad. Some of the lines there and at other places made me laugh right out loud. Some of the language is not really profane but it's certainly crude. The kid is not that likable nor are his friends.
There is a such a mixture of genres in here that is makes the movie fresh almost every time I see it, which has been three times so far.
Maléna is a wonderfully crafted, mature and subtle tale of dedication,
passion and true realization of beauty. The fantastic story revolves
around the teenage boy Renato, ever on his bicycle, who falls in a
rather platonic love with the town's beauty Maléna. I use the word
'platonic' because I felt Renato's passions towards Maléna's
outstanding sexual beauty were mostly of profound appreciation, not
just his own voluntary arousal of his sexuality, though the film has
many scenes of his musterbation. And all these happens when Italy went
to the World War.
Expressions of the War came in every aspect of the film, even in Renato's feelings towards Malena or the hatred towards those men who wanted her. Guiseppe Sulfaro did an outstanding job in this extremely demanding role. My hats off to him. The goddess-like Monica Bellucci rarely looks up or speaks in this film. Besides providing the audience the guilty pleasures, she did a wonderful job in creating the aura of sadness and melancholy around her character. I considered hers is a fine piece of acting.
I do not remember who, but some critic, complained about not knowing
what Malena thought and not being able to see her act and speak more in
I am sure all of us, especially in our childhoods, were once so deeply infatuated by another human being, that they were as sacred and as untouchable to us as Da Vinci's Giaconda.
That is why Malena is portrayed as a work of art who always looks down, burdened by her beauty. We can only suspect what she feels and we can enjoy the sight of her sad gorgeous face.
And absolutely no words are necessary!
This film compliments the saying: BE BORN HAPPY RATHER THAN BEAUTIFUL
I do agree that Monica Belucci, who I consider to be the most beautiful actress alive and one of the most enchanting beauties in the world, was perfect for this part!
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