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15 AMORE

SYNOPSIS:
Based on Maurice Murphy's childhood experiences during the war, when Italian POWs Alfredo (Steve Bastoni) and Joseph (Domenic Galati) are billeted with Dorothy (Lisa Hensley) and her three little children, while Dorothy's husband is fighting at the front. Also living with them are Jewish German refugees Frau Guttman (Gertaud Ingeborg) and her shy daughter Rachel (Tara Jakszewicz). The Italian soldiers become housekeepers and arms length friends, but Frau Guttman cannot reconcile herself to the place or the culture. A secret romance begins between Joseph and Rachel, leading to bitterness and drama at the otherwise calm outback home.

"Beautifully shot by John Brock, 15 Amore is a superb looking, lyrical film, building atmosphere and character with the easy pace of the era it depicts – the 1940s. The war is at once far away from the rural setting yet very close to the heart of this isolated Australian homestead (supposedly Victoria but shot in the Hunter Valley), where the wife and kids who are left behind make friends with the country’s official enemies – both Italian and German – who are billeted there. As we get to know each of the characters and understand the complex relationships that exist between them – and the odd undercurrent that refers to the absent father – we are intrigued. It is not until the last third that the film – inevitably – turns darker and dramatic, as internalised conflicts erupt. More than usually focused for a biographical film, 15 Amore is also less heavy handed. And to its credit, the characters never stray into national stereotypes, while the motivations are always character-based. The performances - especially Steve Bastoni as the warm and entertaining Alfredo, and Lisa Hensley as Dorothy - are terrific, the characters well observed and somehow (ironically, given the wartime setting) the film captures a gentler era. The only weakness (and distraction) is Gertaud Ingeborg’s inexpertly manufactured German accent - indeed, neither of the two German characters are created as well as the others. But in all, 15 Amore is a moving and subtle arthouse film with strong appeal. It is at once nostalgic and robust, full of the things many movie lovers enjoy about cinema – it’s moving."
Andrew L. Urban

""Maurice Murphy's passionate, wonderful tale of an upside down world at a time when the world is in chaos, is an acutely moving observation from the point of view of a young boy. Murphy's concise script and inspired direction engulfs us in a world where the inexplicable is customary, the little things are big, the perspective unique. Haunting music and indelible images caress our emotions as we encounter the innocent and the cynical side by side. The world of 15 Amore is a curious mix of insects, animals, alien German refugees and Italian prisoners of war, who all live together harmoniously. Far from the war and located in a gloriously serene setting, this may appear to be an oasis of tranquility, but underneath the surface simmers a war of the human spirit. This is a world of passion, restraint, keeping up morals; the enemy is fear, longing, loneliness. But it's also a world filled with laughter, love and adventure. Isn't our childhood the happiest time of our life, after all? The imbalance of life is explained simply on the tennis court. Dorothy serves the ball. She doesn't have an opponent, but Alfredo and Joseph chase the balls, debate heatedly over the calls, while the children stand on the sidelines and watch from the trees. It's 15 love. How can a civil game become a civil war? A perceptive look at cultural diversity - the restraint of the English, the bitterness of the Germans and the unbridled passion of the Italians: it's an irresistible mix. Written in three weeks and filmed in as many, 15 Amore is compelling story-telling and superb filmmaking made on a tiny budget that looks anything but its real size. John Brock's glorious cinematography coupled with beautiful music to stimulate our senses guarantees an emotional adventure to cherish. Performances are superb - Lisa Hensley's understated Dorothy is perfectly complemented by the exuberant, giving Alfred (Steve Bastoni is simply wonderful). Poignant, moving and delightfully funny, 15 Amore will snatch your heart, just like it snatched mine."
Louise Keller

"Despite some soft spots 15 Amore has a heart which wins through. Maurice Murphy's autobiographical film teeters on slipping into a too-comfortable nostalgic haze but rescues itself by keeping its characters and their situations in sharp focus when most required. The wartime setting and themes are involving, taking us on a neatly threaded exploration of a time when supposed enemies become friends and lovers. Affectionately seen through a child's eyes, this is a gentle depiction of the splendid and sometimes not-so-splendid isolation of characters thrown together by a remote war which initiates emotional conflict in those left behind. Murphy's feel for character and the services of a mostly fine cast make this a pleasing journey. Lisa Hensley is wonderful as a woman torn between far away devotion and immediate attraction, and Steve Bastoni, in a career dotted with memorable supporting roles, is given the chance to shine in the leading role of Alfredo. There are moments when the story loses a little impetus but this has the strength of its characters to recover and make a lasting impression from its bittersweet tale. It's no surprise 15 Amore has picked up numerous audience awards at film festivals. When we're bombarded with so much flashy-looking but empty "product" it's refreshing to find a film which taps into real emotions of real people - especially one filmed so gorgeously as this."
Richard Kuipers

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Andrew L. Urban's interview with Maurice Murphy

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0




15 AMORE (M)
(Australia)

CAST: Lisa Hensley, Steve Bastoni, Domenic Galati, Tara Jakszewicz, Gertaud Ingeborg

DIRECTOR: Maurice Murphy

PRODUCER: Brooke Wilson, Maurice Murphy

SCRIPT: Maurice Murphy

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Brock ACS

MUSIC: Carlo Giacco

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Emma Hamilton Lawes

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: MXTM Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 21, 2000 (Adelaide);

October 19, 2000 (Sydney, Melbourne);

November 23, 2000 (Brisbane)

AWARDS:
Winner Audience Award, Noosa Film Festival (1999)

Winner Audience Favourite Feature, Aspen Film Festival (1998)

Best Feature Film Cinematography, John Brock, ACS Awards, (1998)







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