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Reinout Scholten van Aschat,
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Marco Tullio Giordana
Luigi Lo Cascio,
Luigi Maria Burruano,
Hard to sum up the tormented and passionate human experience of Giacomo Leopardi, one of Italy's finest artistic minds and souls, and hard to do it without slipping into easy pathos and sentimental triteness, without playing and indulging with the innate melancholy of the poet's world view, to lever on the audience's feelings and appeal to them, the cheapest way. But Martone's eye seems to have no interest in focusing on that aspect. Although the narration is in no way dry, the director lets the poet (portrayed by a wonderful Elio Germano) speaks for himself.
Poetry comes alive, and through poetry, line after line, recited to the night sky, to the moon, to the "native wild village"'s roofs, to a dead love fantasy, recited in the grass of his "lonely hill", to the infinite, romantic wilderness of nature and space; through poetry we see Giacomo: a hungry soul, a restless mind, a rebel, a restless rebel, a hungry mind. The explorer, the wanderer, the child. It's in the details, in the vocal hues, in the witty comebacks, it's in the pride towards creation, towards feelings, towards sadness even; it's in the laughing quietly in the face of the disease. It's in eating ice cream when expressly discouraged, and falling asleep in the marquise's waiting room. It's the strength of the spirit, flashing fragmentarily through the cracks of a wrecked body, of the grip of a possessive, impossible father, of the unbreakable walls of social conformity. It's Giacomo mixing with the common class in the streets of Naples, and smashing (in his mind) the chair where he's sitting when subjected to his old man's sermon.
Martone described Giacomo Leopardi as some kind of Kurt Cobain of the nineteenth century. Many would find this definition outrageous, hasty, forced, but -- at least as this movie shows -- closer to the truth than expected.
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