In the 1920s, Peppino (Scianna) is born in the spirited town of Baaria (aka Bagheria) in northern Sicily. As he grows up, he falls for local girl Mannina (Made), whose family doesn't approve, and gets increasingly involved in politics, working with the communist party to protect people's rights from both the oppressive government and the mafia. Over the years, they have five children, including the precocious and imaginative Pietro (Scortino), who becomes obsessed with cinema.
Baaria is also where Tornatore was born, so the film is clearly a labour of love, drawing on his personal family history and early memories. He also seems to employ Sicily's entire population as extras for frequent crowd scenes, which are thrillingly shot and edited. He also vividly recounts Italian history through the eyes of earthy Sicilians who are often at odds with both the distant Italian government and the mafiosos who try to control their lives.
Yes, the film is assembled on a massive scale, infused with strong Latin passions that continually echo in Ennio Morricone's swelling score. The expansive settings are seriously impressive, while smaller bits of movie magic tie things together inventively, although the livelier early scenes are a lot more engaging than the draggy political section. But all of it is energetic, infused with anarchic humour and huge emotions as these people are confronted with big decisions, a variety of adventures and life-and-death experiences over the decades.
Being a series of anecdotes, the film lurches through Peppino's life without much momentum. The larger scenes capture the community's feisty resilience, but overall the film is so crowded and far-reaching that it's not easy to remember who's who; only Peppino and Mannina really develop as characters. But Scianna and Made add charm and personality to the local details--customs, superstitions, apocryphal stories and scores of vivid side characters. And even though it's awash with Tornatore's usual golden-hued sentimentality, this is a fascinating, important and beautifully made film that rather overstays its welcome.
Run time: 150 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th September 2009
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment
Production compaines: Medusa Film
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 5
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Producer: Tarak Ben Ammar, Marina Berlusconi
Screenwriter: Giuseppe Tornatore
Starring: Francesco Scianna as Peppino, Margareth Madè as Mannina, Raoul Bova as Giornalista romano, Giorgio Faletti as Corteccia, Leo Gullotta as Liborio, Nicole Grimaudo as Sarina, Gabriele Lavia as Insegnante, Ángela Molina as Sarina adulta, Enrico Lo Verso as Minicu, Nino Frassica as Giacomo Bartolotta, Marcello Mazzarella as Podestà
As with his Formula One documentary Senna, filmmaker Asaf Kapadia cleverly uses archival footage to...
This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt...
Resisting the temptation to capitalise on the camp value of these characters, Channing Tatum and...
Wacky enough to make us smile but never laugh out loud, this screwball comedy harks...
A relentless onslaught of violent action, this movie is notable mainly because there's a woman...
First-time feature filmmaker John Maclean takes a strikingly original approach to the Western, creating a...
Despite this being a film about Sherlock Holmes, the fact that it's not much of...
Both shameless and shamelessly entertaining, this relentlessly boyish movie carries on exactly as the TV...