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Francesco Di Leva
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When the DVD of this movie arrived by mail from Italy yesterday, I vaguely remembered ordering it several weeks ago, but I couldn't remember WHY I'd ordered it. I still don't remember why.
I'm gay, and heterosexual romance ordinarily doesn't interest me at all (to be honest, it repels me at least as much as homosexual romance repels many straight people) unless there's something besides romance going on. Since Dieci inverni (Ten Winters) definitely is a romance (of sorts), and since it definitely is heterosexual, I was and still am puzzled about why I wanted to see it enough to order it from Italy.
I'd never heard of its director or any of the actors, and the only explanation I can come up with is that maybe I saw a picture of Michele Riondino somewhere, wanted to see more, discovered this movie and ordered it. (I don't actually remember that happening, but I can't think of any other explanation, and Riondino certainly is worth investigating.) Whatever my reason was for ordering it, I'm very glad I did, because it's a lovely, fascinating and very rewarding movie.
I can understand why someone expecting a typical romantic movie would be disappointed in this one, because there is a lot more trouble than romance between the two lead characters. Their relationship develops slowly and fitfully over the ten winters covered in the movie, and they don't see each other during the other seasons.
One extraordinary accomplishment that may go unnoticed is the excellent way the characters age over the ten years covered in the movie. Each year they look a year older, and at the end they look ten years older than they did in the beginning - but how the aging was accomplished was so subtle that I can't explain how they did it.
It must have been some subtle combination of makeup, hair styles, clothes and gradually maturing behavior from the actors. But however they did it, it's as nearly perfect as it can be. I never thought either "But they look just like they did last year" or "Look at that stupid makeup, trying to make them look older when they're not." How they did it was totally transparent, as it should be but almost never is, even in big-budget Hollywood movies.
Several times during the movie, things got so bad between Silvestro and Camilla that I thought they'd blown it for good, and that however many of the ten winters were left would find them far apart. But somehow they kept crossing each other's paths, and every time there'd be some new and unanticipated development in their relationship.
It's a formula that's been used before, as in Same Time Next Year, but what makes this one different and fascinating is the variety of attractions and dysfunctions that manage to keep them bouncing in and out of each other's lives with such erratic regularity, but that - amazingly - never veer off into melodrama or cliché.
What drives them together and back apart is different each year, and yet the variety never seems either forced or phony, never feels like the director is scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something new. Each year's drama feels fresh and real and believable.
Although I still don't know why I bought this movie, I enjoyed it so much that I'm going to watch it again now.
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