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Marco Tullio Giordana
Luigi Lo Cascio,
Luigi Maria Burruano,
Grazia is a mother of three who spends suffocating days packing fish while her husband Pietro is at sea. Her oft-erratic behavior leads Pietro into thinking she may need medical attention, and he prepares to send her off to a psychiatric institute in Milan. Their son Pasquale, the one person who understand his mother the most, vows to do whatever it takes to foil his father's plan. Written by
RESPIRO is a lovely and intriguing film set on the lonely Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, between Sicily and Tunisia. The main character is Grazia, played by the marvelously beautiful Valeria Golino. She is a mother with a few problems connecting with reality, a wayward independent spirit who attracts the ire of the islanders, especially the women who view her almost as a witch and her husband Pietro (Vincenzo Amato) who is at his wit's end. It is a theme it shares in common with Tornatore's MALENA, made in 2000.
Grazia has three children: a lovely daughter who is attracted to and attracted by a policeman from the mainland, and two adoring sons, whose affection is overtly and uncomfortably oedipal at times. They spend much of their energies comforting their mom, defending her against verbal attacks, supplying her with food when she goes off into hiding from those who want to send her to Milan for treatment, which, in truth, she probably could use. The rest of the time they are chasing birds, hanging out on the main drag with the girls and other friends. Pantsing each other on the beach seems to have become one of the island's most common sporting activities among the young.
What I like most about the movie, besides the appealing scenery, was the interrelations of the characters, the humor, petty gossips, the impromptu emotional outbursts, the displays of maternal and filial affection. The two boys are tremendous: the older Pasquale (Francesco Casisa) is the more mature of the two. The younger Filippo (Filippo Pucillo) has an unregulated diarrhea mouth filled with hilarious and inspired ravings, often without sense. His rant against the busybody women is a treasure, as is his little-brother-as-big-brother protectiveness of his sister from the policeman-friend. The boy embodies an epic Italianate inflammability far beyond his years.
The mysterious end evocative ending, in which Grazia, believed drowned, emerges from the water's depths on Saint Bartolo's Day, is quite beautifully conceived. Fine too are the musical score by John Surman, and the precise and suggestive direction by Emanuele Crialese. I enjoyed this film so much I went to see it several times.
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