75-year-old Giuseppe De Metrio has spent 30 years in Geneva, as foreign worker for the Broyer company. Upon retirement, he returned to Puglia, Italy, where his family had continued to live....
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75-year-old Giuseppe De Metrio has spent 30 years in Geneva, as foreign worker for the Broyer company. Upon retirement, he returned to Puglia, Italy, where his family had continued to live. His only grandchild, 7-year-old Carla, is blind. The whole family looks forward hopefully to the day when Carla's sight can be restored by means of a cornea transplantation. After a heart attack, Giuseppe decides to wait no longer and returns to Switzerland to ask his former boss Mr. Broyer for the money necessary for the operation, as an old promise binds the two men. Intended as a 48-hour trip, Giuseppe and Carla's visit in Switzerland becomes a journey that both grandfather and granddaughter never dreamt of... Written by
Azzurro has its moments, mostly because Paolo Villaggio, who plays Guiseppe, the grandfather, has such a marvelous presence. He's a big, fat man with white hair, a white beard, and black-rimmed glasses. He's probably the only guy like that who wouldn't be mistaken for Santa Clause. A couple of the other actors are decent, mostly because they have expressive faces.
The script, though, is very weak. It should have been killed long before it arrived on the screen. Half of it is a decent drama about an old man coming to terms with his past. That's always a potent subject. It doesn't even really have to be done well to make a good film. But the other half of the film is pure evil: Guiseppe has a granddaughter whom he dearly loves. She is blind, and Guiseppe wants to get her an operation to repair her sight before he dies. Yuck. The whole being-cured-from-blindness thing has been tired for decades. We can forgive Charlie Chaplin for doing it in City Lights. That film is too charming to criticize that much. Douglas Sirk did a pretty good soaper with a blindness angle in Magnificent Obsession. And we can look past it in Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark. He was experimenting with the melodramatic genre, and it was of interest. But Azzurro is playing the melodrama so cheaply. It's even too stupid to keep the music from swelling to all hell, which makes the already embarrassing moments more so. Besides, that little girl, Francesca Pipoli, is far too annoying. They play the cute angle all the time, and it hurts my head. To boot, they give ol' Guiseppe a heart condition, just in case the movie wasn't affecting you enough.
There is, like I say, some pretty good material concerning Guiseppe's coming to terms with his past. They really should have scrapped the entire blind girl stuff and concentrated on that. It's not everyday we have a big, plump, white-haired man. He's so awesome! I would cast him in a movie in a second if I were making one. 5/10.
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