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

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

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.