3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
respiro This absorbing Italian drama captures the feel of the sun-drenched coastal community, even if it never quite grabs hold of us. This is one of those small fishing villages in which everyone knows everyone, and everybody is involved in everybody else's life. There's a routine, and certain things are accepted, such as the fact that all the town's teen boys run wild on the outskirts, engaging in (usually) harmless turf warfare. But one woman is upsetting the careful balance: Grazia (Golino) doesn't sit quietly and let life go by; she jumps in and gets involved. As one villager observes, she's too happy and too sad! Her oldest son (Casisa) is her favourite, and he tries to take care of her, while the younger brother (Pucillo) takes more after his pushy dad (Amato). And the sister (D'Agostino) just gets on with a little romance of her own. When Grazia finally gets fed up with being picked on, she just disappears and leaves everyone wondering.

Writer-director Crialese captures the setting perfectly, down to tiny details that are wonderful to soak in. As in Y Tu Mama Tambien, the older teen boys are a sea of bare sun-tanned skin, bursting with energy and not sure how to express themselves. Meanwhile, the fishermen have their own routines, throwing fish to the younger boys that they can swap for goodies from a vendor lady. The men are all macho thugs, while the women engage in relentless meddling and gossip. But beyond a stereotype, this is a delicate balance that keeps the village going. The entire film is full of terrific touches--funny and warm images that work perfectly and combine to paint a fully rounded picture of this community, right to the visually stunning, slightly surreal conclusion. As a whole, the film is perhaps a bit too gentle and meandering, but it's jammed full of superb moments.

cert 15 themes, language, nudity 30.Oct.02 lff

dir-scr Emanuele Crialese
with Valeria Golino, Vincenzo Amato, Francesco Casisa, Filippo Pucillo, Veronica D'Agostino, Muzzi Loffredo, Elio Germano, Any Marciano
release US 23.May.03; UK 8.Aug.03
02/Italy 1h30

Father and son. Pietro and Pasquale (Amato and Casisa) are out to sea...



R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... respiro "Saw this at the Enzian film festival in nearby Maitland. I thought the idea of balance in a tight community was key to this charming if not totally realized thematic movie. The final scenes of loss, of recovery of balance, and of a re-baptism of a community in love and water and wholeness were interesting, if a bit too apparent a wrap-up to the theme. Lovely scenery and yet ... dangers everywhere ... a lot like life anywhere, sexual tensions, madness, sanity ... and those little boys who took on life smashface against all odds--wow!" --Pat James, Apopka, Florida 12.Mar.03
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall