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.
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