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MALENA

SYNOPSIS:
Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro) is barely a teenager when he first sees Malèna (Monica Bellucci) walk across the square of Castelcuto, his small home town in Sicily, but he’s instantly stricken by her beauty and mystery. Living alone in wartime Sicily, Malèna is the target of the men’s lust and the women’s scorn. Even youngsters like Renato and his friends, fantasise erotically about this beauty in their midst, while she sleeps alone, her husband at the front. When knews arrives of his death, Malèna becomes a widow: and a penniless one. As Renato’s obsession with her mounts, so do Malèna’s troubles. Her demise, destitute to prostitue, pains Renato, although he maintains a loyal affection for her. The women of Castelcuto, however, finally take revenge on her. And then all seems lost, Renato is able to help.

This is quite a good story but rather thin for a full length feature, which shows in the often repetitive sequences and stretched storyline. The first two thirds of the film are occupied by alternatively Renato’s voyeurism and Malèna’s many walks across town, which cause everyone to stare and or comment. We see her walking through the narrow-minded town to the left, to the right, and straight ahead. Through the square, past the houses…along the beach. We see the effect she has on the boys, the men, the women each time. The boys lust after her with teenage abandon. This can’t sustain for too long, and becomes frustrating. But once the flighty, nostalgic mood gives way to the darker side of the story, the film becomes more engaging, though still laboured. Although the leads are both excellent – especially young Sulfaro making his debut as the teenager propelled through lust into admiration and puppy love – many of the supports are allowed to almost caricature their characters. A lack of engagement with Malèna as a person – she is treated more as an icon than a real person, in stark contrast to Renato, giving Bellucci little to do for the most part - makes the film less than satisfying, despite its many fine accomplishment in the crafts and technicals. The most effective scene is where Bellucci is beaten up by the jealous women of the town – she gets her chance to perform, and she’s impressive.
Andrew L. Urban

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

MALÈNA (M)
(ITALY)

CAST: Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro, Luciano Federico, Matilde Piana

DIRECTOR: Giuseppe Tornatore

PRODUCERS: Carlo Bernasconi, Harvey Weinstein

SCRIPT: Giuseppe Tornatore, Luciano Vincenzoni (story)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lajos Koltai ASC, HSC

EDITOR: Massimo Quaglia

MUSIC: Ennio Morricone

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Francesco Frigeri

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: October 25, 2001







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