Good idea that could have been much better written and executed
This film, a Romeo and Juliet re-telling of the star-crossed affair between a local Elvis impersonator and a Nigerian prostitute in Sicily, is extremely inventive in its approach.
It tackles the integration of African immigrants into southern Italian society, taking the approach of a surreal musical. Giulietto is the Elvis impersonator, who lives with his three disgusting harpy aunts. They, like other townspeople and his fiancee scream at the idea of Africans living in Sicily. Romea is the beautiful African prostitute who falls for Giulietto after seeing him standing on a balcony in the center of town. Her African friends and fellow prostitutes, conversely, think Italians are just as disgusting as his the townspeople think the Africans are. Each side goes to a local "witch doctor" to try to cure Romea and Giulietto of their star-crossed love. This movie feels like some sort of cross between a campy John Waters film and Grease, with Italian/African iconology and a little voodoo thrown in. Sometimes it's over-the-top funny, but it becomes surreal and campy in a very unconvincing and tasteless way in some places. It plays into certain stereotypes, putting people down for being fat and including stupid lyrics about blacks and slavery. Some actors, especially the one playing Giulietto, seem to feel that mugging blatantly is an effective technique. That works much better in stage acting than in front of a movie camera. Also, the sets show evidence that the director didn't have enough money to carry off the more surreal special effects. For example, at one point Giulietto randomly appears in front of obviously fake volcanos with horns on his head, which look very like spray-painted foam. It seems to be an innovative A-movie idea trapped into campy B-movie status by funky but amateurish sets and uneven writing/songwriting/directing. I was interested in how it portrayed the plight of the African prostitutes who try to find a way to set up a life in Italy, and are trapped into endless prostitution by pimps and madams who take away their passports upon their arrival. It's hard to make this subject or the story of Romeo and Juliet a comedy, however, and the director doesn't succeed in doing so very well. However, the film is brightly colored, visually fun, reasonably engaging and original in its approach to social commentary. So I would sum up by saying it's a very mixed bag.
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