Facing Windows (2003) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
50 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Past and Present Sentimentally Intersects in Contemporary Italy
noralee15 July 2004
"Facing Windows (La Finestra di fronte)" is like a very European and more sophisticated take on "The Notebook," as it shifts between romantic and culinary past and present through the in-and-out consciousness of an elderly man.

The "Rear Window" eroticism is just one element that accidentally brings together tangled, stymied lives swirling around lovely, exhausted, frustrated chef, wife and mother Giovanna Mezzogiorno, where each child, man, woman, friend and neighbor has separate priorities and fantasies that annoying real life interferes with, from the practical to the political.

Each character and their ties are both delightfully and surprisingly complex and the actors are so comfortable bringing each to complete life that you think you too should be able to come out of the theater speaking Italian so naturally.

But this is a frank, gritty, contemporary, urban Italy we don't usually get to see, with multi-racial immigrants, underemployment and a Fascist past.

The sentimentalism of the live with no regrets lesson is leavened by the seriousness of the final revelations and the compromises that each character still makes.

The music selections nicely fit each character.
34 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Graceful and unpretentious
Chris_Docker11 October 2004
An Italian movie that starts as a pleasant but otherwise unremarkable tale of a nine year old marriage and an old man wandering the streets with no memory and a pocketful of money. We are drawn in by the rather lovable (if all too human and imperfect) characters until, half way through, the film explodes with moments of real beauty, passion and tenderness. The cinematography deftly weaves flashbacks and fleeting glances from within the minds of the main characters, their memories merging seamlessly for a few moments with the real life around them. The script contains gems that you want to remember.

Italian star Giovanna Mezzogiorno is superb as the wife who seems to be locked in a constant struggle with her husband and attracted to the man in the apartment facing theirs. But Facing Window proves to be far more than melodrama triangle: echoes of the Nazi holocaust and the inner strength to realize one's true feelings, as well as one's true calling ... 'it isn't enough to dream about a better life, you must demand it.' For those who like something more substantial to their cinema than popcorn and nachos, Facing Window fits the bill with effortless grace.
34 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
"You must demand to live in a better world... Don't be content to merely survive."
tccandler1 August 2004
"You must demand to live in a better world... Don't be content to merely survive."

**********

The warm colors, lovely performances, textured messages and thoughtful ideas that are layered throughout Ferzan Ozpetek's 'Facing Windows' will make you cherish cinema just a little bit more than you already do. It's a romantic treasure about unrequited love, familial responsibility, sexual longing and following the path in life that makes you happiest. The notion that you can really love someone else only when you've learned to love yourself may be a familiar one, but it is nice to be reminded every now and then. 'Facing Windows' is about all those things and the realization that the memories of those who truly touch our hearts can inspire us to live better lives.

Giovanna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) and her husband Filippo (Filippo Nigro) have settled into life. They both have jobs that make them unhappy. She works as an accountant. He works the graveyard shift because he is too weak to ask his boss for a daytime slot. They argue about money, sex, time and work... There is a subtle sense that this is a marriage whose love is dwindling fast. Perhaps they are only going through the motions for the sake of their kids.

One morning, the two of them are walking home and cross paths with an elderly man (Massimo Girotti). He is utterly disoriented and has lost his memory. And despite Giovanna's protests, Filippo brings him back to their home for the night so that he can take him to the police the next morning in the hopes of unraveling the mystery. As complications ensue, that one night stretches to a few days. The old man experiences strange episodes, flashbacks of sorts, that reveal clues to his mysterious past. His actions lead to a meeting between Giovanna and Lorenzo (Raoul Bova). Lorenzo lives across the street from Giovanna and their apartment windows face each other. The sexual tension between the two is quite palpable as they have both been secretly watching and lusting after each other from their dimly lit windows.

Giovanna and Lorenzo's instant friendship swiftly moves to flirtation and then to a passionate kiss. However, Lorenzo's job is transferring him to another city very soon and Giovanna is put in an awkward spot having to make a very quick decision. Her heart tells her she should act on her feelings. Her mind tells her to be responsible. Nevertheless, the two of them puzzle over the mystery of the old man as they try to come to terms with their feelings for one another.

The beauty of this film is the way in which it balances many layers of story and character. Everyone in the film has something interesting happening in their lives and it all seems to revolve around the influence of the old man. These days, we are lucky if films give us one thing to think about, let alone many things. 'Facing Windows' (aka La Finestra di Fronte) is delightfully stimulating for both mind and heart.

I have to point out the performances in this film. 'Facing Windows' swept the David di Donatello Awards (Italian Oscars) for good reason. The film is brilliant but the performances are spectacular. Giovanna Mezzogiorno has vaulted straight to the top of my list of favorite actresses with her role here and in 2002's lovely film 'The Last Kiss' (L'Ultimo Bacio). She is the most dramatic actress I think I have ever seen, able to combine genuine fragility with a toughness and intensity that will give you goose-bumps. She has the most cinematically beautiful face I think I've seen and a talent that is remarkably rare. In just two films, she has earned my trust entirely... I will be first in line to see anything else she does.

Massimo Girotti is equally powerful as the mysterious old man. He is able to convey every necessary emotion in this tricky role. This was to be Girotti's final role before passing in 2003. It is a performance you won't soon forget.

Raoul Bova and Filippo Nigro are great in the secondary roles and round out one of the best ensemble casts of 2004.

'Facing Windows' is one of those aesthetically marvelous Italian films that sounds as great as it looks. It is fun and surprising, unpredictable and touching. Giovanna Mezzogiorno is a special actress who is fast becoming one of Europe's biggest stars. You will be seeing a lot more from her in the next two decades. I cannot recommend a film much more than this one.

I highly recommend you seek this film out in theatres because it can take forever for these foreign gems to hit DVD (Sometimes up to 2 years). 'Facing Windows' will vie for a slot in my year end top ten list and deserves your time and money. Make an effort to find this great Italian film!

**********

TC Candler - Critical Mass Movies - www.tccandler.com

**********
41 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Sometimes it takes a total stranger to prompt us to step back and rethink who we are, what we really want in life
ruby_fff1 April 2006
"Facing Windows" 2003 is a very thoughtful, gentle Italian film telling us how frustrating human conditions of the heart can be transformed by one another.

Giovanna Mezzogiorno (also in "Don't Tell" aka Beast of the Heart) plays Giovanna the central 'heroine' - a young woman with plenty of mixed emotions, who is discontented with her (chicken factory accountant) job, mother to two children, wife to a husband who's night shift job schedule frustrates her, and most of time she shouts at him and wouldn't want to listen - yes, she's quite bitchy about herself, though finds brief solace when doing bit of occasional baking. Through the course of meeting the unexpected stranger that Massimo Girotti portrayed - Simone/Davide the old man at a lost, who seems to have amnesiac problem and was temporarily taken in by Giovanna's husband into their home against her wishes, yet her whole world starts to change. Writer-director Ferzan Ozpetek has a way of telling his stories, always full of humanity, foibles and virtues mixed together, turning out a thoughtful film never short of gentleness and the sharing of human kindness.

There are side events, of course: the young man whom she now and then noticed across her kitchen window in the next building, the flashbacks and 'Déjà Vu' storyline that the old man Simone experiences, the delightful turn of events - those attractive delicious-looking display of cakes and cakes - what a baker's dream!

Filmmaker Ozpetek, who was born in Turkey and lived in Italy, includes poetry in his films: he introduced Turkish poet Nâz1m Hikmet through his characters in "His Secret Life." Here, we get to hear Giovanna thinking aloud, talking to Davide: " I feel your gestures in mine, and I recognize you when you speak. Does everyone who leaves you - always leave part of themselves with you? Is this the secret of having memories?"

The cast is just wonderful, of course, Mezzogiorno and Girotti were fascinating to watch. The music by Andrea Guerra complemented the cinematography by Gianfilippo Corticelli. If you'd like more of Ozpetek's work, try "Hamam: A Turkish Bath" 1998 (my first IMDb review posted on 10 January 1999) and "His Secret Life" aka The Ignorant Fairies, 2001.
13 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
What a surprise!
stefano148811 May 2003
I very much appreciated Ozpetek's previous film, "Le fate ignoranti", which has earned him a lot of respect on the part of both audiences and critics, in Italy and beyond. I was reluctant to go see this film because of the casting of Raoul Bova (a second-rate actor who doesn't have much substance behind his good looks and began his career as a teenage heartthrob - what a pity it didn't end there) and because of the reference to the Nazi deportation of Roman Jews, which took place on October 16th, 1943 - I just felt that to use this as a pretext for a gay love story was kind of cheap. But nearly everyone I knew who had gone see the film kept me telling that it was good, so I became so curious that I decided to go. Well, my friends were absolutely right.

Ozpetek's strength is his ability to portray characters that are realistic without being obvious, so everyone can relate to them without identifying with them. He showed that already good ability in "Le fate ignoranti" as well, but this time he seems to have developed it even further. His approach is always personal, and this enables him to make films that are deeply introspective. It is the kind of films that the French are usually good at making, but Ozpetek in not an imitator. What makes his films so DIFFERENT is that there seems an emotional involvement that is very difficult to find elsewhere; at the same time, this never translates into trite sentimentalism or dull rhetoric.

This is an outstanding film, and this is so also thanks to the performances given by most of the actors. Massimo Girotti, in his last appearance before his death, shows that, at about 80 years of age, he was still able to be a first-class actor (and this explains why he featured in so many films by Visconti); after this film, which is dedicated to him, we will all miss him even more than we already did. Giovanna Mezzogiorno, the daughter of a late actor herself, also gives an outstanding performance as the woman who finds herself at the crossroads and is torn between passion and the responsibilities of everyday life, between reality and desire, just like so many of us often are. Filippo Nigro, who also featured in a minor role in "Le fate ignoranti", is given a more important role in this film, and deservedly so. The only exception is Raoul Bova, and I wonder why Ozpetek seems to have a compelling need to cast "actors" who are more sort of toy boys, mostly in secondary roles (Bova in this case, Gabriel Garko in "Le fate ignoranti"), who usually have very limited acting abilities and who almost inevitably end up faring very poorly and suffering from the comparison that is inevitably drawn between their performances and those of the other actors who feature in the films; which is even more striking if we take into account the fact that Ozpetek seems to have the ability to rejuvenate actors and to make them play characters that are very different from their clichés (as an example, consider not only Massimo Girotti in this case, but also Margherita Buy in "le fate ignoranti").

Just one word for the soundtrack, which made the film even more touching and has spawned a major Italian chart hit.

The only criticism that can be made? How come that Italian directors seem to have lost the ability to say something about the society in which they live? In the past, they were able to be sardonic about it, and to intertwine the two levels, social and personal. Now the only films they seem able to make are personal-only stories, and that's a pity.

Altogether, a deeply recommended film.
22 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Rear window
jotix10010 July 2004
Having seen all of Ferzan Ozpetek's films, I looked forward seeing this new picture, which just started a commercial run locally. Without a doubt, this is even more complex than the ones before. Mr. Ozpetek is a director that shows great talent. He has worked in the screen play as well.

This is a film that presents two stories that are completely different from one another. The beginning of the movie takes us back to 1943 Rome, at the height of the war. We witness what happens in the opening sequence without any knowledge of how will it play in the total outcome of the picture.

The film then changes to present day Rome. We see Giovanna and Filippo, who are struggling to make ends meet. They meet one day a mysterious old man who is trying to give them money. They end up bringing him home since the local police can't do anything. This man, Simone, has the clue to the puzzle of the first part of the film, but that will come at the end.

Giovanna's marriage to Filippo is in danger of failure. Giovanna suddenly discovers a life in the apartment across the street. Lorenzo, who lives alone, turns out has been spying on Giovanna as well. They get to meet, but common sense prevails and their possible relationship never amounts to anything.

Giovanna Mezzogiorno is one of Italy's leading actresses. Not only is she attractive, but she can act, as well. Miss Mezzogiorno has one of the most expressive and beautiful eyes we have seen in a long time. Not only that, but she expresses so much by looking directly into the camera.

Massimo Girotti, another great figure in the Italian movies is the mysterious Simone, who in reality is Davide, a master dessert chef who owned one of Rome's most prestigious pastry shop. Mr. Girotti's magnificent presence in the film makes the most with his pivotal role.

The film is deeply satisfying. Another great film by Ferzan Ozpetek.
21 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The grace of transformation through relationship
Peegee-321 June 2004
What a rich and satisfying film this is! The complexity of lives interweaving, with a transformative impact is a rare experience in this medium.

Life is full of chance meetings...often ignored...but in this film it is pivotal. A young couple, having serious relational problems, come upon a dazed old man on the street. His entrance in their lives, his own dramatic life and the wife's (Giovanna's) ultimate connection to him serves as a link to her profound choices...First, to risk a sexual encounter with the handsome neighbor she's watched through her facing windows and second, to recognize that her discontent has been with herself, more than her loving husband. The complexity of the old man's life...his survival of a concentration camp...giving up a beloved lover to save others...his success as a famous pastry chef...all contribute in a tangential way to Giovanna's transformation. The final scene is enormously moving and meaningful.

Don't miss this gem...if humanism, great performances and cinematic richness are important to you.
20 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
two "improper" love affairs
ozlemdir26 April 2007
One of the greatest Turkish directors ever, Ferzan Ozpetek has long proved himself as a director who doesn't only make good films but also makes them his own. With the elegant cast, the wonderful soundtrack and a cleverly knit story, La Finestra di Fronte is no exception to his brilliant movie-making.

Beginning with the suffocatingly ordinary life of a young couple in Rome and developing as the couple host a stranger, an old man in their house and the lead actress' "improper" attraction to a stranger about whom she knows nothing; the story unfolds into the impossibility of two parallel love stories. The story of two young men during the Nazi suppression; and that of a man and a married woman; two relations both of which are considered highly immoral in their respective environments.

Through the flashbacks, we are taken back to how love finds a way in a country under occupation and we see how the young woman sees her own love's fate in the old man's sad story.

Worth seeing, and seeing again.
15 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
The Story of a Woman and a Mirror of Another Love Story in the Past
fanni29 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The movie tells us the story of a woman in her thirties, Giovanna, who has been married for nine years with Filippo, the father of their two children and who suddenly, probably due to her meeting with an older man, Massimo Girotti, reflects upon her life.

Step by step Giovanna discovers events of David's life, reads one of his letters and starts to understand his thoughts, his sentiments, his behavior. Meanwhile she herself examines her life including the fact that she peers every day her neighbor Lorenzo who lives in the flat opposite. And she begins to talk to Davide, to explain that she desired a different job, possibly as a pastry chief, but had given up, had thought it was too hard.

The director cleverly gives you the idea of Giovanna's great emotional confusion, but also of her discovery of a new way. As a matter of fact she eventually meets with Lorenzo and has a brief relationship with him, but also finds out that her family, the love for her husband and their children is more important. Her 'new life' will be in the professional field: she leaves her job and tries to work in a pastry.

The movie is well narrated, the characters are convincing even if sometimes weak (I think to Lorenzo moreover). I found the plot a little confused as well as Giovanna's mind. Eventually I got the impression that too many mini plots all together weaken the main story which looses intensity.
12 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Well deserved Italian Oscar winner
harry_tk_yung22 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers warning !!!

The ripples-in-a-mundane-life type of story is difficult to handle. When the ripples are over, it would often be as if nothing has ever happened. However, there may well be profound changes in the people involved. Either way, it's a challenge to sustain the interest of the audience throughout the story. Facing Windows does a superb job in sustaining our interest throughout.

There are actually two threads of ripples to the simple life of Giovanna and Filippo. A very ordinary urban couple with two kids, these two found their marriage at a standstill. While a bit of a loser career-wise, Filippo is a compassionate family man. Giovanna is a sensible, if slightly too-practical woman. One would wonder what has gone wrong with their marriage. The fact of the matters is that nothing has really gone seriously wrong. It's just a most common modern urban phenomenon: stagnation. To sustain the audience's interest, the movie must earn empathy for Giovanna, the central character. This, ironically, is achieved through consistently slightly underplaying, foregoing the hysteric over-working of the emotional conflicts, and letting the simple dialogue, the silences and the nuances do the trick.

The first ripple is denoted in the title, where facing windows provide an opportunity for Giovanna and handsome bachelor Lorenzo to silently notice, and then fantasize about each other. With just a hint of this the affair-that-is-to-be at the beginning, director Ozpetek takes his time to let the story and characters develop.

The second of the ripples contribute to the development of the first, but is an entirely different story in its own right: the couple finding an old man who calls in the street with a complete lost in memory except for his name. Taking him temporarily into their house somehow provides an opportunity for Giovanna to encounter Lorenzo and develop their relationship.

The movie skillfully links the two unrelated stories, shifting with dexterity between the familiar present-day domestic situations to the slightly suspenseful history surrounding the old man during the Nazi war years. The montages of the old man's world of memory and illusion are particularly well worth watching.

There is a lot more to the movie than the above basic premises, such as the artful handling of the story back in 1943, such as the tasteful depiction of the `affair', such as the outrageously sinful display of the pasties chef's achievements…. just too many to mention. Everywhere you turn, you see director Ozpetek's sensitive, imaginative, honest touches, brought to life by an excellent cast surrounding the marvelous performance of Giovanna Messogiorno, who, incidentally, possesses one of the most beautifully faces on today's movie screen.

Facing Window won a well deserved 5 awards in the Italian Academy Award, including best picture and performances for Giovanna Mezzogiorno (Giovanna) and Missimo Girotti (the old man).
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Survival
diand_14 July 2005
Many people note the similarity to Rear Window. But except for some peeping there is no comparison to be drawn. This is more subdued Schindler's List as a back tale in another tale of self-discovery and fulfillment of personal interests and love. One evokes the other, as Giovanna learns bit by bit about the horror stories of razzias in Rome and she starts changing her life. By far the best and most emotional shot comes when Giovanna looks from her friend and neighbor Lorenzo's home to her own home and life. Effective use of doors and windows.

But that's it. There are no deeper layers, complex film-making or any other cinematic efforts at work here. It moves somewhat predictable to its end. To set it up as a mystery was still an interesting choice.Massimo Girotti fits here perfectly. But it lacks some coherence, an almost trademark weakness of current Italian cinema.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A bittersweet love affair in modern Italy
DeeNine-214 December 2005
This is the best film I've seen in perhaps six months or more. The direction by Turkish/Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek is consistently interesting, intriguing, beguiling and ultimately satisfying both emotionally and intellectually. The film is beautifully cut, and the acting, particularly by the fascinating Giovanna Mezzogiorno who plays the young mother of two whose name is also Giovanna, is first rate.

The story begins in a bakery during World War II when Davide Veroli (Massimo Girotti) is a baker's apprentice. We see him among the great earthen ovens and the warm loaves as he makes what appears to be a sprint out of the cave-like establishment. But he is pounced upon by the baker. They wrestle, a knife is grabbed and apparently the baker falls and there is blood on Davide's hands as he runs out into the streets.

Cut to modern times as Giovanna and her working-class husband, Filippo (Filippo Nigro) are crossing a bridge in the city. They meet an old man who seems lost and disoriented. He can't remember his name and he has no identification. Filippo takes pity on him and against his wife's wishes takes him home with them to their apartment. We know because of the man's age that the mystery of who he is has something to do with the men in the bakery scene from World War II.

But his story is only tangential to the central story of the film which is about Giovanna's brief affair with the man next door, Lorenzo (Raoul Bova), whose apartment window faces hers. This is a love story, a bitter-sweet one--which all great love stories should be in some sense, since life itself is bittersweet. It is framed by, and contrasted with, another love story, that involving the older man from many years ago.

The tension in the film revolves around the resolution of the affair between the married Giovanna and the handsome man who will soon be leaving the city. Will she abandon her marriage and her family for the excitement of a new man? Because the police can find out nothing about the old man, and because Giovanna's heart softens toward him, and because he is an elegant man of refinement, especially in the pastry arts--Giovanna's dream is to be a pastry chef--the man is allowed to stay for a while and the two are drawn together into friendship, the old man and the young woman.

That's enough of the plot--the development, the denouement, and the resolution of which are beautifully realized in both an artistic and an emotional sense. Instead let me say that the feel of modern Italy with its racial tensions and its old world versus new world differences are nicely expressed as the past makes itself felt on the present. The dialogue is wonderfully expressive and gives us the sense of authenticity and the kind of realistic effect seen only in the very best films. This is the first film directed by Ozpetek that I have seen, but it won't be the last.

But see this for Giovanna Mezzogiorno whose beautiful and expressive eyes and natural demeanor will hold you to the screen.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Behind each door or window your life can change direction. Go for it.
m-t-a-j-stevens3 August 2007
Several story lines are woven together in this movie. All are about making choice's. About having dreams and being pragmatic. And in most situations there is little time to think before one decides. The movie combines the big events of history with the small events of daily life. Perhaps the small daily things appear to have important consequences. And important events can change your life entirely. After all, the best option is to follow your dreams in a sensitive way. To have confidence in yourself, and in other people. It is filmed in a beautiful way and that close to reality, that you feel like being part of the it. Do you want to sense, feel and taste life ? .. this will impress you.
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
"You must demand a better life and not just dream about it"
adinutzza200112 June 2007
'La finestra di fronte' is a movie about discovering what you really want in life and finding the courage to follow this dream. The movie transmits a lot of mixed of emotions by means of two parallel stories, seeming similar at first, but which in the end prove to be each different and unique.

Giovanna is a married woman in her 30s with two children and finding herself in a confusing time of her life, having to deal with frustrations and disappointments. Her marriage seems to be falling apart while she starts fantasising about the neighbour she sees every day through her window. At this time a new event comes to influence her life: meeting an old man having lost his memory whom she takes for a few days in her house.

As the story unfolds, two forbidden love stories seem to come into shape. As Giovanna and Lorenzo, her neighbour, try to help the old man find his home, the passion they had created for each other while peering through each other's windows grows by each moment. At the same time, they start putting together the pieces to the puzzle of the old man's life and his forbidden uncompleted love for another man during the war.

Giovanna is oscilating between her passion for the mysterious neighbour and the responsibilities for her family, but in the end the old man proves to be the one holding the key to her confusion: "Don't be content to merely survive. You must demand to live in a better world not just dream about it". By discovering herself in his personality, Giovanna manages to realise what her real frustrations were and what was truly missing from her life. Through the metaphor of the window the movie describes the difficult attempt to understand our own frustrations and desires which might not always be what we think they are.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
a magnificent film with most elegant senses
ckiral13 December 2003
As soon as I walked out of the movie theatre I said to myself I should write something about this film. But, who am I to write about it? I am not a journalist or somebody like that whose opinions are read all over. So, I started to talk about it to all my close friends. At least I could have influenced the people close to me. Then came IMdB to my mind. I sat down to write about it, but then it took me several minutes to hit the keyboard. No, it's not because there is nothing to write about the film. On the contrary, there is just so much to write, I can't figure out how to start.

Let me start to say like this: I watched it last night, and all my day today I have the frames hoovering around my mind, notes of the soundtrack ringing my ears. I spent extra hours in the middle of Istanbul's heavy traffic just get its soundtrack CD, but, my efforts in reaching it resembled Davide's efforts for finding Simone....all sold out.

As they say about some legendary directors, Ferzan Ozpetek's film has something to do with the fragile senses of life, not so much to bring tears into your eyes, but so much to tickle your fragile senses. He never chose to create a full blown drama, he never used cliche Hollywood tactics. In this film, it starts out to be a story of an ordinary middle class Italian family, having the typical life problems. Then, as the time passes, the film grows into itself and turns out to be one of the finest enjoyments of the silver screen. The scenes where Giovanna and Lorenzo chase Davide to the closed shop and then to the little caffee, the seemless changes of characters as the camera moves in circular motion, the dance of Davide with Giovanna, the cake making, all like a gentle hand caressing our fragile feelings. Excellent director of photography, magnificent music, larger than life actings of Mezzagiorno and Girotti were the reminicinces of last night's feast in my mind.

I don't know why, but Ozpetek always have something to say about gay relations. This film could have been as magnificent or may be more in a straight relationship story. Ozpetek moves his camera very gently, use the most relevent music themes to trigger quite elegant feelings of our lives. After seeing this film, I've realised how much I was surrounded by the cliche Hollywood films, all following pretty much the same formula. For those who haven't seen it yet, I guarantee at least that you shall experience a quite a different and interesting enjoyment, may be the most different one.

The film ended, and I stayed to the very end of the credits just to listen more of the great music. The last scene where he zoomed into Mezzagiorno's enchanting eyes was like a Sergio Leone closeup. Leone chose to zoom into his men with no name, Ozpetek chose to zoom into his real life characters...those characters that have the most elegant feelings in their eyes....and Giovanna Mezzogiorno...how can I describe that plain beauty? If I was to encounter somebody like her, I'd undertake all the penalties of life just to look a bit into her eyes. I wouldn't be able cook as good cakes as Davide, but do whatever it takes to make sure she stays there forever.

Go and see this film...make yourself a favor...get your feelings sense some of the most elegant moments of your life
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A work of sheer genius
robert-temple-17 July 2007
Ten out of ten is inadequate for this film; twenty out of ten would be more appropriate. This is one of the most rewarding and moving films to be made for years. Everything about the film shows genius at work, the directing, the writing, the acting, all of the highest possible quality. Somebody should invent 'international Oscars' to award to it. The story is double-stranded, complex, interweaving, compelling, intriguing, everything one wants really. The film is dedicated to Massimo Girotti, who died before its release and gave one of its finest performances as the enigmatic old man, 'Simone', around whom both intertwining stories revolve. One does not wish to betray the plot surprises and revelations by explaining too much. The whole film is based upon whether a man takes a left turn or a right turn, and the tragic consequences either way. One story takes place in 1943, and the other in the current day, but not everyone still alive is new to the story, as the viewer discovers, as layer after layer of revelation occurs. The film is so deeply pathetic, tragic, emotional, and at the same time life-affirming that all the emotions are let loose at once. And all those pastries! What a feast!
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Best film from the "Turkish Almodovar"
turkam7 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen 3 of the 4 Ferzan Ozpetek films available in the USA, and I hope too see "Harem Suare" very soon. Between "His Secret Life/The Ignorant Fairies" and "Hamam/Steam," I think this is his most complete and well-directed film. Ozpetek is a unique international phenom because he is a Turkish director in Italy and an open homosexual. There is only one other Turkish director of the later distinction, Kutlug Ataman (the German film Lola and Billithekid). But, those unique characteristics are really secondary because Ozpetek is above everything else, a solid director. I don't think his other films quite achieved their full objectives, but this one does. For starters, the film is well cast. Giovanni Mezzogiorno, one of the world's sexiest actresses ( as in whoa! baby), has shined in films like "The Last Kiss" and she does here too. Then, there is Massimo Girotti of "Last Tango in Paris" fame in his very last film giving a moving performance as a homosexual Holoaust survivor. Lastly, Turkish actress Serra Yilmaz, who has made films in some 3 or 4 countries with the likes of the late legendary Turkish comic actor Kemal Sunal (1944-2000), is quite splendid in a supporting role here as the friend who gives heart-felt, but perhaps unwise advice to Mezzogiorno. The film shows the influences of Hitchcock (Rear Window- of course), Visconti, and even a hint of the Turkish melodrama but it is its own unique moving film. There are plenty of surprises along the way. Ozpetek has been known as the Turkish Almodovar, for his provacativeness, but this film will prove he is not a mere novelty but rather a solid up and coming director on the world stage.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Elegant, Poignant Story w/ Some Great Dialog
pc9510 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
One of the better films I've seen recently, Facing Windows (La Finestra di Fronte, an Italian gem is often elegant and sometimes poignant. It shouldn't be surprising that this foreign effort trounces anything Hollywood has coughed up recently. There are several noticeable elements that flow together well including an opening mystery and the interwoven romance, both of events past and present. I enjoyed the provocativeness of the forbidden affair that the main character Giovanna fantasized about and sort of intertwined with the mystery of the stranger at hand. Simone was a well done character as was her neighbor Lorenzo. As the mystery of the man is resolved, we still are unsure of what's going on with Giovanna - the movie takes the practical approach to the situation, and (spoiler) there is a short magnificent monologue concluding the movie. Although a few years old, one of the better movie's I've seen in awhile.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
NO MORE TEARS
kulabas5 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Facing window is the mirror of your life.As through you will see what you chose,what you choose.And after all you see will you choose the right thing?

This movie is about choices,regrets and breaking the circle.An old man comes into the life of a young woman who has problems with her husband and job.In this point she is the one trapped in the circle.As she learns the choice old man did in the past,she starts to think about the choices she's doing.Her relationship with the old man is kinda ironic.Because he made the choice between his gay lover and town people.Now she's about the take a decision;her husband or the guy from the facing window,the one that lives the life she wants.

'Facing Window' has a lot of elements;loving as a gay,wasting the life,being an inadequate husband...We're used to see gay relationships in the early works of Ozpetek (Maybe because he's a gay,too!).But in this one the reflection is not as strong as the other ones.And it feels like there is a gap between these elements.They can't get a position that they work as a whole structure.

But the shooting technique of Ozpetek comes all over these.He has a rhytm.This puts a soul into the movie.He uses the music and the cinematography very well.He is so successful about creating the atmosphere.All movie goes on like a song with wonderful lyrics and tune.

It's not hard for us to get into the movie.Because the story is not unusual.Everyone of us lives situations;left to make a choice and live with the regret,there to get the second chance and let it go.So I think one of the things that makes these movie so dramatic in the eye of the audience,it's a window to your life.The tears you cry,deep inside they're the tears for your mistakes.

Serra Yilmaz is so successful.She took a lot of awards for the performance in this role.Giovanna Mezzogiorno;her eyes just for a couple of seconds are worth a thousand words.You can tell all the story of her life just by looking through her eyes.

And the cream-cakes...This movie is not suggested to the ones in the diet.They are an important symbol in the movie.First,they are the major thing building the connection between Giovanna and Davide.And they're one of the things that makes this movie so poetic,flying in the air.

Early works of Ozpetek are better.But on of the things I like in this movie is the distance between the classic European story-telling technique.I never be a whole European cinema fan and the attitude of the movie makes me closer to it.So here I say;'God,let every worse movie be like this'.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Clear Windows Distort Reality
lawprof4 July 2004
Director Ferzan Ozpetek's engrossing and ultimately moving "Facing Windows" (sub-titled) owes a small debt to past movies that build a life story around seemingly innocuous voyeurism. "Rear Window" comes to mind. This tale, set in Rome, is a sensitive examination of lives in conflict, largely through unanticipated meetings and the endless possibilities for personal growth.

Giovanna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) is a young married woman with two adorable kids, the daughter charmingly precocious. She works as an inspector in a chicken factory with her wise-cracking portly friend and all-around co-conspirator, Ermine (played with wry panache by Serra Yilmaz). Giovanna, who has abandoned her dream of being a first-class pastry chef (too old to apprentice at 29, she laments), is married to Filippo (Filippo Nigor). Married for nine years, they've been together even longer. Their relationship, largely revolving around the kids they both pamper and adore, is conventionally stale.

A loving devoted dad who pulls his share of childcare responsibilities, Filippo's ambition probably miscarried in his teen years if it ever existed. He pumps gas on the night shift and seems to accept whatever life dishes out. He can't understand and is angered and disturbed by Giovanna's routine demands that he seek a better job. Notwithstanding the simmering marital discord, he's deeply in love - still - with his beautiful, sharp-tongued wife. Fortunately, they have a great flat and its kitchen window plays a central role in the story.

Out shopping Filippo and Giovanna encounter a well-dressed but disoriented elderly man who gives "Simone" as his name. Simone, later revealed to be actually named Davide, is subtly but powerfully played by Massimo Girotti. He is amnesiac, possibly suffering from Alzheimer's or some other organic brain syndrome. Kindhearted (he really is a good fellow) Filippo brings him home over Giovanna's initial objections. Simone becomes the contemporary Italian Man Who Came to Dinner (and like the original, he stays for much more more than a repast). Helping the confused gent to undress, Giovanna finds the tattooed numbers on his arm that reveal he probably is Jewish and that he survived hell.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Giovanna steals glances when she can at a very handsome young man whose apartment faces hers. This is bank manager Lorenzo (Raoul Bova) and in a series of misadventures involving the peripatetic but delusional Simone, he helps Giovanna. And falls for her. She's already got the hots for him, having spied on his romantic life and figuring it's better than hers.

Two stories develop. One is about Simone/Davide recalling the horror of a dark October 1943 day when the Nazis, with more than enthusiastic aid from Italian collaborators, rounded up for murder as many of the Eternal City's Jews as could be found (the Vatican closed for business that day, so averting any personal observation of a terror its functionaries knew was happening). Davide's part in saving some fellow Jews, with a motive to a certain degree unusual and original, unrolls slowly with affecting detail. As does why he, in his mental confusion, adopted a different name.

The second line is Giovanna's flirtation with Lorenzo and her steady maturation, her recognition that some wants in life may be attained with sacrifice and some sacrifices are ultimately too much to endure or, more importantly, to inflict on others.

Giovanna Mezzogiorno gives a deep, thoughtful and very believable portrayal of a young woman who through fortuitous circumstances must painfully re-examine what she wants out of life and how much she'll pay for change. Only a few feet of air separates her apartment from Lorenzo's but Giovanna's obsessive gazing through glass masks how little can really be known about another person and more importantly about oneself through mere, actually sterile, viewing.

Warning: about three-quarters of the way through "Facing Windows," moviegoers will be struck by sharp hunger pangs. Have confection on hand as a temporary antidote.

Andrea Guerra's score is a bit intrusive but it's nice music.

9/10.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Competent, But Vaguely Unsatisfying
nikmaack4 June 2005
It's a well filmed, interesting, mysterious romance, but there were moments when the sentiment felt slapped on with a trowel.

She's in an unhappy marriage. Her husband is an irresponsible schmuck. They meet a befuddled, lost old man on the street and the husband insists on taking him home. The woman starts to get involved with the man across the street, whose windows face her apartment. The old man's situation seems to encourage the affair. All very interesting.

And it plays out well. It's moving, it's compelling, it made me laugh out loud, it made me feel sympathy pangs for the characters.

But something about it felt weak, easy, and sort of bland. I found myself paying attention to the subtitles, trying to pick out individual Italian words, wondering if I could use foreign films to learn foreign languages. In other words, there were times when I was bored.

A led to B led to C, and sometimes the dot to dot was so obvious I wanted them to cut to the end of the alphabet, or shake things up a bit. Things do get resolved in the film -- there is "growth" -- but it sort of feels like we only grew just a little bit.

It's worth seeing. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood. It's a competent, romantic film that left me vaguely unsatisfied.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
David, but no Goliath
christian9412 September 2011
There is no accident that Facing Window (aka La finestra di fronte) was nominated for 11 Davids. It was the best Italian film that year and, in fact, the best Italian film in years. It only took a Greek director in the person of Ferzan Ozpetek to achieve this! However, Italians can rest quietly now that the epic Best of Youth (aka La meglio gioventù), also nominated for 11 Davids, who won the following year along with Italian Marco Tullio Giordana as best director, established itself as the height of modern Italian cinema.

Giovanna Mezzogiorno is also something to be proud of for any finger-waving, chest-pumping Italian. She wins her first and currently only David in what will eventually be 7 nominations from 1999 to 2010. She may not be Monica Belluci beautiful, but her charisma in front of the camera and acting skills are undeniable. She shines here with a role with relatively few dialogues. She captured the World film-going's imagination with nominations in Czech Republic and at European Film Awards and a win at the Bangkok International Film Festival for Facing Window.

As for Massimo Girotti, he will end a long acting career with a Best Actor David, although he regrettably passed away the month before the film was released in his country. His character oozes wisdom and sharing of life's essence and vivacity while accepting ones fate and helping future generations build a better humanity. I hope the actor had the same peaceful mindset in his last days.

The film has a rather simple story and does not tackle something of Goliath proportion. It remains grounded and focused on daily life but brings dreams, feelings, past and hope for a better future in a very contemplative way. The voyeurism cinematography and outstanding music brings it all together. Family, love, work and helping other human beings are themes that are explored without giving much conclusions if any. The final scene, however sums up the short glimpse into someone's imperfect life and leaves you with a positive outlook on loss, life and continuity.

Recommended for a thinking, slightly poetic, audience.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Excellent Romantic Drama that doesn't fall into clichés
princebansal198214 June 2011
I decided to watch this movie after watching Giovanna Mezzogiorno in "Love in times of Cholera", which is another excellent movie. I was prepared for disappointment but this was a very pleasant surprise.

"La finestra di fronte" is a romantic drama movie. It is an excellent combination of two genres and both the aspects are nicely balanced.

It has several story lines that intermingle fluidly. Each one is carried to a satisfying conclusion but thankfully not a typical Hollywood conclusion. Instead things are resolved in a much more realistic manner.

Everything about the movie is perfect whether it is acting, directing or dialog. Many serious issues are addressed but the movie never falls into clichés.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
the emotional travel of an ordinary woman...
fruko2 March 2003
Ferzan Ozpetek chose a woman once again to put at the center of his film. Giovanna and Filippo in spite of being both young, are married since 8 years and have two children. Giovanna has abandoned her dreams and got lost in her dissatisfying life and has a secret habit of peeping his neighbour, Lorenzo. Then an old man who suffers amnesia enters her life and causes her to meet Lorenzo. The woman starts a travel in the past of this unknown man, and in herself... In first place, I loved the film because of the messages that were given. It pushes to appreciate your own life and fulfil your desires and to think about the value of a life, of past and its memory. The film is a succesful harmony of human relations and the story. The food, the city and multi-nationality are important elements. It was so beautiful when they were on the dinner table, an italian family, their turkish friend Emine, (as the actress Serra Yilmaz stated, the smile of the film) and his black husband and their children. I recommend this film to everyone, especially to who needs to be reminded about some values of the life.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
More than a love triangle
Red-12512 September 2004
La Finestra di fronte (2003), directed by Ferzan Ozpetek, is an excellent film with solid performances and two interesting plots.

The basic plot--a troubled marriage and a potential love affair-- is of less importance than the "secondary" plot. This latter plot involves an old man--brilliantly performed by Massimo Girotti-- who is found wandering on the streets. He's unable to tell anyone who he is, and where he's from.

The plots intersect because the married couple rescue him from the street, and bring him home to their apartment. As the love triangle unfolds, so does the old man's story. This story is poignant, gripping, and haunting.

The direction is solid, and the actors are excellent. The only problem is that the husband, played by Filippo Nigro, looks too much like a young Bruce Willis. Raoul Bova, as the third side of the triangle, looks too much like a young Clark Kent.

Furthermore, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, as the young married

woman, is simply too beautiful to be real. However, if you can look past her appearance, you'll notice that she portrayed her character elegantly and realistically.

This is definitely a movie worth finding and worth seeing!
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed