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Giovanna is a bookkeeper in a company which packs chickens. She is married to a man who has a precarious job. First she starts being curious about a young man who lives in the block opposite hers, and then she falls in love with him. The relationship between the two becomes much stronger when she starts to find out more about him from an old man who bursts into their lives. The old man, obsessed with the memories of some things that happened n the long past autumn of 1943, has lost his memory and finds refuge in Giovanna. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
I very much appreciated Ozpetek's previous film, "Le fate ignoranti", which has earned him a lot of respect on the part of both audiences and critics, in Italy and beyond. I was reluctant to go see this film because of the casting of Raoul Bova (a second-rate actor who doesn't have much substance behind his good looks and began his career as a teenage heartthrob - what a pity it didn't end there) and because of the reference to the Nazi deportation of Roman Jews, which took place on October 16th, 1943 - I just felt that to use this as a pretext for a gay love story was kind of cheap. But nearly everyone I knew who had gone see the film kept me telling that it was good, so I became so curious that I decided to go. Well, my friends were absolutely right.
Ozpetek's strength is his ability to portray characters that are realistic without being obvious, so everyone can relate to them without identifying with them. He showed that already good ability in "Le fate ignoranti" as well, but this time he seems to have developed it even further. His approach is always personal, and this enables him to make films that are deeply introspective. It is the kind of films that the French are usually good at making, but Ozpetek in not an imitator. What makes his films so DIFFERENT is that there seems an emotional involvement that is very difficult to find elsewhere; at the same time, this never translates into trite sentimentalism or dull rhetoric.
This is an outstanding film, and this is so also thanks to the performances given by most of the actors. Massimo Girotti, in his last appearance before his death, shows that, at about 80 years of age, he was still able to be a first-class actor (and this explains why he featured in so many films by Visconti); after this film, which is dedicated to him, we will all miss him even more than we already did. Giovanna Mezzogiorno, the daughter of a late actor herself, also gives an outstanding performance as the woman who finds herself at the crossroads and is torn between passion and the responsibilities of everyday life, between reality and desire, just like so many of us often are. Filippo Nigro, who also featured in a minor role in "Le fate ignoranti", is given a more important role in this film, and deservedly so. The only exception is Raoul Bova, and I wonder why Ozpetek seems to have a compelling need to cast "actors" who are more sort of toy boys, mostly in secondary roles (Bova in this case, Gabriel Garko in "Le fate ignoranti"), who usually have very limited acting abilities and who almost inevitably end up faring very poorly and suffering from the comparison that is inevitably drawn between their performances and those of the other actors who feature in the films; which is even more striking if we take into account the fact that Ozpetek seems to have the ability to rejuvenate actors and to make them play characters that are very different from their clichés (as an example, consider not only Massimo Girotti in this case, but also Margherita Buy in "le fate ignoranti").
Just one word for the soundtrack, which made the film even more touching and has spawned a major Italian chart hit.
The only criticism that can be made? How come that Italian directors seem to have lost the ability to say something about the society in which they live? In the past, they were able to be sardonic about it, and to intertwine the two levels, social and personal. Now the only films they seem able to make are personal-only stories, and that's a pity.
Altogether, a deeply recommended film.
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