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Nello Balocchi, a 35-year-old teacher of Greek and Latin, is invited to Bologna by his father, the owner of the Papal tailor's shop in Rome. His father hopes Nello will find a soul mate in Bolgna and thus produce an heir for the business. Nello stays in a guesthouse run by Arabella, a wise woman who already knows all about his situation. He shares a room with Domenico, a crafty barber from Naples. After several unsuccessful efforts, Nello meets Angela, an exuberant, beautiful young blind girl with whom he falls hopelessly in love. The girl's father and Nello's parents do not approve of the relationship, but the real problem is Angela's temperament.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
According to the English subtitles, Nello walks into Angela's room and says, "Good morning". They only talk for a few minutes. She then asks him if it is dark outside, to which he replies: "It's almost evening". However, this is not necessarily a mistake in the original Italian. "Buon giorno" is said until afternoon, and "buona sera" takes over from 5 p.m. onwards. Saying "E' quasi sera" would not be an error if the scene began at lunchtime. See more »
As do other movies of Pupi Avati, Il cuore altrove (the heart elsewhere) deals with people searching for home home meaning here not only a certain place on the geographical map but also in society and in the emotional landscape within.
A not so young man is sent from Rome to Bolognia with a clearly defined task: To find a woman who will produce an heir. He dutifully sets about to fulfill this task and also gets started in his job as a teacher of Latin and ancient Greek in a high school. He clearly is a misfit and what's worse: a cultured one - who lives in a world of his own. As Avati explains in an interview on the DVD: He is one of those guys who always sing either too loud or too low he will never make it into a choir (meaning any choir this might serve as an explanation for the ending an other reviewer described as a head-scratcher).
At a dance for the blind in a monastery the not so young man meets a young, beautiful and glamorous woman played convincingly by a Julia Roberts clone. He immediately falls in love with her and she, a temperamental and fickle soul, uses him in turn in an attempt to take revenge at the fiancé who jilted her after she lost her eyesight. The man is hell bent on marrying the woman who, as a dentist's daughter firmly integrated into Bologna's high society, seems to stand socially above him, disregarding all the sensible and well intentioned attempts to deter him. His is an absolutely quixotic enterprise that is bound to fail.
This short synopsis does not illustrate enough the kind hearted approach the director takes towards all the concerned characters and the mellow, consoling atmosphere created by the excellent cinematography and the backdating of the story to the first half of the 20th century. The story has a tragic ending but does not leave the main character without hope (but neither with a home). Very touching is the scene between him and his pupils as he tells them that he cannot stay on in Bologna (because of his delusion). Stay on, we will take care of you, they plead, and it really feels like it is meant that they will adopt him collectively. It struck me as being a typical reaction of young people who, with the innocence of their youth, think they can really improve the world and make a difference.
Once again in this movie Avati proves himself to be something of a master of unintentional cruelty he really has a keen eye for the mechanics of the mind and the interaction between different people and the mess they are bound to get into. In this aspect I detect a resemblance with the work of Woody Allen.
Il cuore altrove certainly isn't a movie for everybody's taste but in any case a rewarding experience with many funny and tragic moments.
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