Respiro

"OK"

Respiro Review


A grim yet hopeful, fablistic slice-of-life drama from Italian writer-director Emanuele Crialese ("Once We Were Strangers"), "Respiro" stars Valeria Golino (best known in the US for "Rain Man" and "Hot Shots!") as Grazia, a passionate, misunderstood, unstable young mother whose adoring husband and teenage son try to protect her from the scorn of their Mediterranean island fishing village.

It's a struggling but uncomplicated place of hard lives where the worst problem is rival gangs of bored, wayward, stray-dog-like boys. But the gossipy populace finds itself increasingly concerned with the bipolar behavior of the beautiful, stormy Grazia, who is unpredictable and prone to both acute joy and dangerous fits of melancholy.

But she takes comfort in the love of her fisherman husband (Vincenzo Amato), who defends her honor even when embarrassed by her, and in her special relationship with her teenage son Pasquale (Francesco Casisa). So devoted is the young man to his mother that he stays home to paint her toenails as a pick-me-up when she takes to her bed in a deep blue funk. So dependent on Pasquale is Grazia that she clings to him needily as he drives her around the village on his Vespa day after day.

But after she causes a local fiasco, unleashing a pack of feral dogs on the town by freeing them from a torturous kennel, her loyal husband waffles (at the goading of his live-in mother) and agrees to commit Grazia to psychiatric care in Milan. The decision begets a fateful chain of events as Pasquale helps his mother run away, leading her to one of his favorite hiding places on the beautiful but rocky and rugged island. Then he plants her dress on the beach to imply that she has drowned -- breaking the spirit and the heart of his guilt-riddled father.

Based on a local myth from the island where Crialese shot the film (Lampedusa, near western Sicily), "Respiro" has a spicy, sweaty, sun-baked sense of place and an air of magical realism, both of which enhance its central themes of love, passion, perception and faith.

While young Casisa gives a moving performance as Pasquale -- through whose eyes the story is told -- the picture's most powerful emotions come in Amato's all-consuming grief as the husband. Yet Golino so embodies Grazia's independence, hope and devotion (in spite of the woman's troubled psyche) that even though "Respiro" seems set on a course toward misfortune, she feels like an angel watching over the outcome.

Crialese takes one major misstep, however, that so imperils the movie's emotional authenticity that it cannot be ignored: He fails to show any reactions to Grazia's apparent death in her other two children, Pasquale's little brother and spitfire coming-of-age sister. While their father is falling apart, they seem to have no reaction at all. Unless I missed some plot point that explains away their indifference, Crialese missed the boat in a big way with this omission.

"Respiro" resonates with enough soul and feeling to have a memorable impact in spite of this shortcoming. But it is impossible to disregard.



Respiro

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 22nd May 2002

Box Office USA: $0.9M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 64 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Grazia, as Pietro, as Pasquale, as Marinella

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.