This film was based on the novel of the same name by writer Elio Vittorini, well known also for his highly praised "Conversation in Sicily." The film version of "The Red Carnation" has all of the substance and surface of the novel...the tentative youthful longings, the charged political background as Fascism in Italy of 1924 forces everyone, youth included, to examine their ideals and to make choices.
Our hero is the 18-year-old Alessio Mainardi, who receives a token red carnation from a girl named Giovanna and becomes a symbol of love, desire, and even has political overtones as a symbol of the struggle for political freedom in opposition to Fascism. Alessio's first sexual experience is with the prostitute Zobeida, whom his friend Tarquinio is infatuated with at one point. Unfortunately, this story of personal turbulence and the restlessness of youth, loves lost, loves gained, should have become a better film. Instead, it remains, to me at least, a bland concoction from start to finish, uninvolving, and has the visual palette of a bad imitation of a film by Mauro Bolognini.
Director Luigi Faccini is no Bolognini, and while the performers in the movie may LOOK appropriate, the script is tepid and the performances carry very little dramatic weight. Miguel Bose', in particular, plays Alessio in a vacuous monotone. The authentic settings of Sicily's Syracuse are convincing enough. The rock music score seems inappropriate to the 1920s setting, however. Director Faccini did a revised version of the film in 1999 and shortened it by 20 minutes. Perhaps that was an improvement. I doubt it. My comments are based on the original issue.
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