Margherita is an Italian filmmaker whose high-flying career doesn't compensate for the turmoil she's struggling with in her everyday life. Her mother is in hospital terminally ill, and it isn't something she can readily accept. Meanwhile, her teenage daughter is more than a handful and their relationship is somewhat on the rocks. Directing her latest film isn't even a good enough distraction from her personal problems, because now she's got to work alongside a famous American actor named Barry Huggins who has no memory for lines and is virtually impossible to work with. Her brother Giovanni is there to support her, but even he knows she's got to change if she wants to see a positive outcome from all this.
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This offbeat ghost story draws us in with its sharp-edged comedy then gets under our skin by quietly shifting the lively humour into much darker emotion. Italian-Turkish filmmaker Ozpetek has mixed present-day Rome with World War II before (see the Hitchcockian drama Facing Windows), so this more comical approach sometimes feels uneven. But it's still hugely engaging.
At the centre is Pietro (Germano), an aspiring actor in his late 20s who's tired of living with his cousin Maria (Minaccioni). He can't believe his luck when he rents a grand apartment in a desirable neighbourhood. Although he quickly learns why it was such a good deal: there are eight ghosts living with him. After his initial terror subsides, he begins to get to know them, discovering that they are a 1943 acting troupe. Maybe they can help him get his career going, as well as his stale romantic life. And if he can work out why they're trapped in this flat, maybe he can help them move on.
This set-up allows Ozpetek to indulge in some hilarious slapstick, as the ghosts all have diva tendencies, while also delving into some much deeper drama due to Italy's troubling wartime past. Along the way, the film also makes pointed comments on the country's political and arts scenes, both past and present. But the focus is always on the characters themselves, and they're beautifully played. Germano is such a likeable guy that we can't help but fall for him and wonder why he has so much trouble finding someone to love.
Continue reading: A Magnificent Haunting Review
Already tormented by grief over the auto-accident death of her loving husband, an upper-middle class Italian widow receives another psychological blow in "His Secret Life" when going through his personal effects. She discovers he was having an affair. For seven years. With another man.
An emotionally resounding, life-affirming film of surprising connections and affections, the story sees Antonia (Margherita Buy) brought out of her despondency by the determination to face down her husband's lover. But instead she finds herself becoming friends with the sexy, rugged, 30-year-old artist named Michele (Stefano Accorsi), despite receiving a catty cold shoulder at first.
"Now he's gone and I still have to put up with you? No way," Michele protests. "I couldn't even go to his funeral. All I have left is a stack of photographs."
Continue reading: His Secret Life Review
Margherita is an Italian filmmaker whose high-flying career doesn't compensate for the turmoil she's struggling...
This offbeat ghost story draws us in with its sharp-edged comedy then gets under our...