In her late 20s, Giovanna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) is married with (two) children and a labourer husband, Filippo (Filippo Nigro) leading a stolid life in Rome. When the couple come across an old man (Massimo Girotti) in the street who has lost his memory, Filippo's softhearted response is to take him home, much to her displeasure. Brittle from her lifestyle, Giovanna resists the intrusion. When, while escorting the old man, she runs into Lorenzo (Raoul Bova), the man across the street whose window is facing theirs, her most intimate feelings are stirred by his almost obsessive romantic interest in her. The two men outside her marriage effect a profound change in how she lives and loves.
Review by Andrew L. Urban
Acclaimed and awarded, popular and engaging, Facing Windows is a seductive film whose strengths are its use of cinematic language. The close up is writer director Ferzan Ozpetek's secret weapon, and it's a powerful tool - so long as your cast is up to the intense scrutiny, delivering the mass of complicated feelings and ideas that their characters need to convey to us. His is.
Giovanna Mezzogiorno is not only beautiful but expressively talented, and the late Massimo Girotti (to whom the film has been dedicated) is almost acrobatic in his ability to convey the nuances required of his ageing but alert David, with a great love story to tell.
The script has two distinct storylines (as well as a subtext), one to do with david, the other to do with Giovanna. Both, of course, are driven by love, but of different kinds. And complicated by different factors. Then there is the foundation of Giovanna's actions, in her marriage; it's wobbly and fractured, but it plays a crucial role in the film's emotional tapestry.
As for the subtext, it's the most delicate of suggestions, buried in the film's action: Giovanna's emotional journey is propelled and redefined by the two men outside her marriage. Perhaps with comedic push-and-shove from the ebullient Serra Yilmaz as Amine, a helpful neighbour with a great love of life and an earthy approach to romance and lust.
The depth of the screenplay is never allowed to weigh it down, though, which is its great achievement. We care, we understand and we forgive.
Beautifully photographed, with a wonderful score and a sense of pace that is subtly driven by fine editing, Facing Windows offers both cinema sophisticates and mainstream audiences looking for engagement a well balanced tragi/comedy.
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FACING WINDOW (M)
La Finestra Di Fronte
CAST: Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Massimo Girotti, Raoul Bova, Filippo Nigro, Serra Yilmaz
DIRECTOR: Ferzan Ozpetek
SCRIPT: Ferzan Ozpetek, Gianni Romoli
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gianfilippo Corticelli
EDITOR: Patrizio Marone
MUSIC: Andrea Guerra
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrea Crisanti
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane: May 20, 2004