Elena (Kasia Smutniak) and Antonio (Francesco Arca) seem not to be made for each other. They are too different in terms of character, life choices, worldview, and the way they relate to ...
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Elena (Kasia Smutniak) and Antonio (Francesco Arca) seem not to be made for each other. They are too different in terms of character, life choices, worldview, and the way they relate to others. They are total opposites. However, they are overwhelmed by a mutual attraction they're trying hard to avoid; but to which they succumb to. This dramedy on relationships also gets a very credible performance from Paola Miraccione, who plays the tragic, albeit funny, character Egle.Written by
Inspired by the Beauty and the Beast myth, Ferzan Özpetek's latest film has bourgeois would-be café owner Elena (Kasia Smutniak) falling in love with mechanic Antonio (Francesco Arca). Initially it seems that they are totally incompatible, but animal attraction draws them together. After a whirlwind courtship, they marry and have two children. Later on in life Elena contracts breast cancer; Antonio finds it hard to deal with the news, leaving Elena's best friend Fabio (Filippo Schiccitano) to step into the breach. In hospital Elena strikes up a relationship with fellow-victim Egle (Paola Minaccioni), but this is brought to a cruel end with Egle's death. Meanwhile Antonio learns how to cope with his wife's illness, and the two look forward to a certain amount of happiness. Özpetek builds the narrative around a circular structure, beginning and ending with Elena and Antonio's courtship, with the cancer plot in the center. This enables viewers to focus on the ways in which pore-marital dreams are realized or not, as the case may be. Through the use of slow tracking shots and zooms into close-ups of the main protagonists, he invites us to reflect on the characters' emotions, expressed nonverbally as well as verbally. Although this is a clever technique, it seems rather out of place in a slight narrative which basically reinforces the message that love conquers all. There are also some unfortunate implausibilities of plot that jar somewhat: it is highly unlikely that Elena would resume work so soon after having had chemotherapy; and she would certainly not entertain the idea of making love to her husband immediately after having been given another dose of the same therapy. While the film contains at least one stand-out performance by Minaccioni as Egle, as she tries the best to put a brave face on life, despite her illness, it is ultimately very disappointing.
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