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HEART ELSEWHERE, A

SYNOPSIS:
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 certain nobility.

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 time.

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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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

PUPI AVATI INTERVIEW

TRAILER

HEART ELSEWHERE, A (PG)
(It)

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







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