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I recently saw this at the 2008 Palm Springs International Film Festival. This film is beautifully photographed by cinematographer Mario Amura and features a good soundtrack to go with the mood of a monastery but at two hours long you feel like you've just spent tow days in monastery. The backdrop where this was shot is in fact the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore on the Venetian island of San Giorgio. designed by 16th century architect Andrea Palladio and coincidentally the principal character in the film is named Andrea. Andrea (Christo Jivko) is a successful young man who has enjoyed wealth and the finer things in life but has decided is life has no meaning and he becomes a novitiate in a Jesuit monastery. It's novitiate don a preppy kind of look in matching sweaters but their rooms are very traditionally sparse except for the modern appointments of personal computers. The story centers around three novitiates, Andrea, Zanna (Fillipo Timi) and Fausto (Fausto Russo Alesi) as they go through sacrifice, denial, frustration and reflection as they try to attain enlightenment and spirituality and prove to the Father Superior (Andre Henneke) and themselves that they are prepared to become Jesuits. This is based on the 1960 novel Impure Tears-The Perfect Jesuit by Furio Monicelli. Monicelli, himself was a novitiate in the 1950's and his novel deals with his own questions of entering a lifelong service to the faith while dealing with his own homosexuality. The homosexuality aspect of the novel is absent in the screenplay adaptation by writer/director Saverio Costanzo. This film examines the spiritual crisis that each of the tree novitiates is undergoing but we learn little about their backgrounds and their character development and it's really difficult to care about them. Their emptiness, frustration and doubt certainly bubbles to the surface but almost in explosion of silence. The use of a mixture of Italian, German and Bulgarian actors makes for interesting casting but there is little warmth in this cold, long, dull story and I would give it a 5.0 but I can recognize the fact the some may find this a very beautiful and rewarding cinematic experience although I am not one of them.
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