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A rebellious little boy has been taken away from his abusive mother and placed in the temporary care of a young couple. And while Mario is a singular child, commendably portrayed by the pugilistic Marco Grieco, what turns Antonio Capuano's Mario's War into a fine film is not just this penetrating performance but the sensitive depiction of the new world that envelops this young boy. This film gets to the heart of the restless struggle between an adult and a child who have to adapt to each other without the bond of a biological relationship. Giulia is a special woman who gratefully and bravely embraces her new foster son. As played by the wonderful Valeria Golino (recently seen in Respiro), we recognize her unbending strength and commitment to meeting this huge challenge. Not only does she have to grapple with every obstacle Mario throws at her, but she has to cope with the doubts and hesitation of Sandro (Andrea Renzi), the man she lives with and loves... Hovering uneasily over the ... Written by
Capuano, again, does his magic. He gave us memorable films with approaches similar to La Guerra di Mario, with approaches I would call, to say the least, unusual.
His way of revealing the mysteries of Neapolitan life is absolutely original. Many of those ideas are captured in this film, you'll have to look for them and make them your own discovery.
As writer, director and producer, Capuano commits again all the power of his vision and his story-telling in a very shocking way. Maybe you'll never find a film where a 9 year old boy blows you out of your socks. And maybe it's just my understatement to what Mario (superbly played by Marco Greco) tells the audience.
Valeria Golino has the difficult role of Mario's to-be mother. You have to watch the film to understand what I say. I won't reveal not a bit of the story. It's worth doing anything you can to find it and watch it.
It's a difficult story. A very real story, because it deals with life as it comes. Sadly, most Americans and all influenced solely by American films, may find this kind of cinema not entertaining or even interesting. You'll only find a glimpse into the deep reality of us humans.
But that's what European cinema has been doing for one hundred years, so you know more or less what you'll face.
What really grabbed my attention again is Capuano's inventiveness. In his previous films (which you have to see) he uses devices that are sometimes quite far-fetched, but he is absolutely on his own, and he knows what he does. Mainly, he knows he will shock his audience. And he does. Something you'll have to look for in this film, too.
This film is to me as one of those great dinners prepared by a master chef: the very best ingredients, the very best hands and the very best wines in a presentation that is as important as every other detail. Capuano had a beautiful script, superb actors, an amazing crew and the absorbing city of Naples. All he needed was serving it with perfection.
Please, if you can see this film, watch it twice and you'll find out how impressive are the very original means Capuano uses to tell a story.
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