Today is Sunday, and a bit overcast, hot and humid. Mass is this evening at the parish of Santa Maria Elisabetta right near the hotel. Fr. Dario Vigano, a priest from Rome who works with the Italian Bishops, Conference for communication, just took our jury to lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant on the far end of the Lido island. Neither Peter Malone nor I are fish-eaters so we look in awe over our mounds of prosciutto to the very beautifully arranged antipasto dishes of the others… albino crawfish! And other creatures I am unsure of…. Then they had lasagne al mare (it looked lovely actually; white lasagne with sea food) and we had gnocchi. Also, Brut seems to be the drink of preference here in the Lido… Very nice!
A 47 year old French woman, Anne-Marie has divorced her husband after 18 years of marriage and tells her co-worker, she is finally free. However, she takes up with a handsome black man, several years younger. I suppose in the US she could be called a cougar…. She wants no attachments. She breaks up with him… but cannot let him go. When she finds out he has a new girl friend, her same age, she begins to stalk the young man and tries to track down the woman.
Can you guess where this is going? No where. I think it is the mirror opposite of the Belgian film NOWHERE MAN. A mid-life crisis characterized by self-inflicted loneliness turns the woman into an obsessive quasi- predator.
The film was long and tedious, even if it is possible to have some sympathy for the woman. She has a friend her age named Lars that she calls up for companionship in her misery. To his credit, he offers her faith and grace. He receives bad news about his health a few days later and the prognosis is bleak indeed. But he is ready.
Does Anne-Marie learn anything? Well I cannot tell you that. But this one is not on my favourite film list, though the other jury members seemed to have liked it well enough. At least it was different from formulaic narratives…. I don,t mind ,different, but I do mind boring.
Il Papa di Giovanna
Silvio Orlando as Giovanna’s papa….
It is 1938, Rome. An art teacher counsels his 17 year old daughter, Giovanna, who is socially challenged, about how to notice boys, to make friends. The mother is beautiful and distant. She married for security, not love. She knows Giovanna is different….
Tragedy unfolds when Giovanna’s only friend, the daughter of a senator, goes after a young man, the only young man who has ever paid any attention to Giovanna. In fact, her father has encouraged both Giovanna and the youth, in his quiet though direct way. When Giovanna discovers that the young man and her friend are really together, Giovanna kills the girl.
What ensues is a trial and the determination that Giovanna is criminally insane – and the audience agrees. As World War II breaks out, Giovanna’s father, realizing his part in the tragedy, and recognizing that he did not notice how fragile his daughter really was, moves near the hospital to care for her. The mother gets a job in Rome, and then goes with a former police man friend, Giovanna’s god-father, into the country side to wait out the war. …
This is a family-psychological drama of the first order, told with depth and sympathy. Silvio Orlando as the father is brilliant. Redemption and reconciliation are at hand even amid tragedy; especially amid tragedy. The film is shot is sepia giving it a historical look. I thought the acting was mostly good. The fascist landscape, however, did not impress my co-jurors from Europe. They are tired of this director’s continual use of this historical period to tell his stories ( Pupi Avati). One of the jurors did say, however, that the fascists were unforgiving and that Avati must have been making a parallel between human relationships and politics.
Score one for Avati.
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