A man moves his two daughters to Italy after their mother dies in a car accident, in order to revitalize their lives. Genova changes all three of them as the youngest daughter starts to see the ghost of her mother, while the older one discovers her sexuality.
How do children respond to tragedy? On an icy road near Chicago, Marianne dies in a crash, leaving Joe and their daughters, Kelly, about 16, and Mary, about 9. That summer, a friend from Joe's graduate student days, 20 years before, arranges a teaching job for him in Genoa. When they arrive in June, Joe starts teaching and the girls have the summer before school starts: Kelly quickly falls in with youths her age; their club and beach life leads to sexual awakening. Mary, burdened by guilt for her mother's death, is solitary. The girls take piano lessons, Mary draws, and she also sees and talks to her mother. Joe asks them, "Are you okay?", but is that enough?Written by
The piece of music Kelly plays on the piano for her father and Barbara is "Étude no. 3 in E major, Op. 10, no. 3 - Tristesse" by Frédéric Chopin. See more »
On their way from the airport, when they pass in the car in front of a fresco of Saint George fighting against the dragon, Ms. Keener says that Saint George is the Saint Patron of Genova. Now, it's true that Saint George has a strong link to the history of the city: the banner bears the cross of Saint George, in the middle ages the Bank which funded expeditions overseas (by the way it's the building that shows the fresco seen in the movie) was named after Saint George etc. but the Patron of Genova, since XIII century, is John the Baptist and he came to be after Genoese crusaders (First crusade) brought back from Holy Land his ashes, which are still kept in the Cathedral. See more »
Colin Firth plays an English lecturer working in the United States. His wife dies in a car crash, and Firth has to look after his two daughters - one a typically sulky and vacuous teenager, the other a girl of 11 or 12 who blames herself for the car accident, and begins to imagine her mother is appearing in her bedroom and talking to her. Firth decides to teach in Genova for a year, and takes the girls with him. The teenager smokes dope (she was doing the same at her mother's funeral reception) and the younger girl continues seeing her dead mother.
Everything in this film is very low key and measured, and there's nothing in it that rebels against common sense, nothing that seems beyond the realms of ordinary human life. The description given by my cable provider called it a 'supernatural drama,' but that it isn't. When the characters begin to wander around the maze of Genoan alleys, getting lost, I feared that the film might turn into a dreadful rehash of 'Don't Look Now,' but luckily no. The teenage girl resents her father's attempt to know where she goes (and who with) every hour of the day. The younger girl is more interesting as a character, and her portrayal of grief is quite moving.
Firth is excellent here, and he acts his part by apparently doing very little. This is exactly the right way of approaching one's part in rather slight 'slice of real life' material like this. If you're expecting 'supernatural' garbage like 'In Dreams' or 'Half Light,' you'll be sadly disappointed. But if you want thoughtful and humane drama, this is for you.
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