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

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

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.