I think we all passed through this stage during our teenage years when we feel ashamed to wear shorts in public & confronting with the transformation of chemical change in our physique & mind. After watching masterpiece- ‘Cinema Paradiso’, I can’t resist to watch Giuseppe Tornatore’s second film back to back.
Struggling with his juvenile hormonal change, a teenager school boy named Renato gets carried away by a young & extremely beautiful widow daughter of his Latin teacher. It’s infatuation of the age that drives him towards Malena. Blessed with heavenly curves, she is the dream women of the town any male love to sleep with. The boy follows her in the town & fantasies about her in his own private moments. Gradually he started considering it as Love. One day he noticed her alone with another army man & it becomes talk of the town. However she had just casual friendship with the man, she was considered whore in the town. Everybody started taking benefit of her after the death of her father. Double standard society under the jealousy & rage beat her up & torn her clothes in public gaze one day. Soon after her escape from town, her amputated husband returns surprisingly. The boy helps him to get his proud possession & ultimately the courage & beauty wins. The boy runs away from longing, from innocence, from her on her bicycle in the last fading scene wishing good luck to Malena for her new life. Although the end is impressive, it does not give me the heightened feeling like ‘Cinema Paradiso’.
Monica Bellucci is the perfect Italian choice for sensuous Malena with her desirable body. She looks awesome & showed her flesh in few scenes. It’s not a great performance of her but her glamour & grace is just impeccable. In his introducing debut Giuseppe Sulfaro has gave impressive screen presence as Renato.
It seems that Tornatore is highly impressed by Vittorio De Sica & so in his films you see the old ruined Italian architecture as a setting in the backdrop of his subjects. Even his fascination with child characters & bicycles is also reflecting more with De Sica’s films. What I like about Tornatore is that even tough dealing with serious subjects or themes; he always keeps the elements of humor intact in his films. The film is shot almost beautifully focusing thin line between aestheticity & vulgarity.
But compared to Tornatore’s ‘Cinema Paradiso’ there are many flaws in the film. The story is more one dimensional, too thin & so many scenes look too dramatic, repetitive & stretching ones instead of natural & artistic ones in “Cinema Paradiso’.
But above all it’s film to watch if you love Tornatore’s craft & like Italian cinema.
A Unique puerile love story.