HEART ELSEWHERE, A
In 1920s Italy, Nello (Neri Marcore) the 35 year old quiet, immature bachelor son of the
papal tailoring family in Rome, is sent to teach a school in Bologna. He is awkward and
shy with women but a brilliant Latin teacher. In the boarding house for men he shares a
room with a womanising young barber from Naples who takes him to a dance at the local
institute for the blind. Nello meets the blind and beautiful Angela (Vanessa Incontrada)
and falls madly in love with her. Angela, a notorious femme fatale, lures Nello into a
pretend-affair to make her ex-lover jealous, and Nello goes along, blinded by love. He
almost convinces her to marry him (to the consternation of his parents) but then Angela
leaves for Zurich to extend a promising treatment that may restore her sight. Nello is
afraid her sight will cost him her love.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A classic romantic melodrama, A Heart Elsewhere is glorious to look at and engagingly
entertaining, sidestepping all the corn that could undo filmmakers of lesser talent than
Pupi Avati. His script is a showcase of controlled manipulation, and his characters are
variously restrained and emotional. But Neri Mercore’s innocent and immature Nello is
the most restrained of all, so quiet at times his students have to ask him to speak up. By
contrast, when he starts singing in a choir, he is so loud his peers are embarrassed.
This sort of contradiction as a sign of a writer whose confidence comes from observations
about human nature. This life experience also informs his unusual view of Angela, the
blind beauty who is at once a temptress and a scheming, selfish sinner. Vanessa Incontrada
makes a feisty and multi-dimensional Angela, never milking us for empathy but always
edgily close to a sulky blow-up of her character.
Avati guides the film through its paces with a sure hand, ensuring that the characters
drive the action and the action dictates to the camera – which is beautifully handled
by Pasquale Rachini. There are morsels of dry humour scattered through the screenplay, but
the overall tone is actually closer to melancholy than melodrama, and the film is all the
more enjoyable for that.
Review by Louise Keller:
A warm-hearted love story with comi-tragic elements, A Heart Elsewhere touches the heart
with its perceptive and sensitive eye, and amuses by its sharp and witty tongue. Pupi
Avati’s delightful film offers pleasures of many different kinds in this moving story
about a young man’s romantic pursuit of his dream to find his soul mate. A succinct
and entertaining script filled with wonderful lines that will have you chuckling out loud,
the story is both charming and funny, but has an underlying sadness that gives it a
With its beautiful, rich settings and a haunting music score, we are transported to
Bologna in the 1920s, when tradition and moral etiquette were paramount to everyday life.
There we meet Nello, the gauche tailor’s son from Rome, who carries the weight of his
family’s expectations on his shoulders. Since the death of his twin and his
father’s favourite, it is Nello who is expected to take over the family
papal-tailoring business as well as produce an heir.
It is with those expectations that this naïve, serious, romantic young man finds himself
as roommate to someone his family has researched – to make sure that he is not
‘inverted’. There is no chance that Domenico is gay: quite the contrary, this
ladies’ man is keen to introduce Nello to his girlfriend’s older sister. Pity
is, the lady in question is considerably older, unattractive, tactless and blind to boot.
But this marks the turning point of the story, and the moment when Nello meets the
exquisite Angela whose billowing dark curls, pouting lip and shapely model figure conceal
a heart of steel. We are on tenderhooks, as Nello falls hopelessly in love with Angela,
but it seems clear that Angela is simply using Nello. The epitome of a selfless, gallant
romantic, Nello captures our hearts as he discovers love and happiness for the very first
There are amusing scenes as succinct telegrams reporting his progress in the love stakes
reach his parents’ tailors’ rooms, and the down to earth dialogue between his
mother and father is most entertaining. ‘I’m not a bad person,’ mutters his
father, ‘Otherwise, I wouldn’t have outfitted three popes!’ Splendid
performances from all the cast, but it’s Neri Marcoré’s Nello who steals our
affections. As the story plays out to its inevitable and moving conclusion, we are left
with a strong sense of place and the nostalgia gleaned from the many emotions encountered.
Recommended for anyone who has a heart.
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PUPI AVATI INTERVIEW
HEART ELSEWHERE, A (PG)
il Cuore Altrove
CAST: Neri Marcore, Vanessa Incontrada, Sandra Milo, Giulio Bosetti, Nino D’Angelo, Anna Longhini, Chiara Sani and Giancarlo Giannini
PRODUCER: Antonio Avati
DIRECTOR: Pupi Avati
SCRIPT: Pupi Avati
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pasquale Rachini
EDITOR: Amedeo Salfa
MUSIC: Riz Ortolani
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2003