Film Review: A Sicilian Ghost Story

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Director: Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza

15 | 2h 2min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy | 18 May 2017 (Italy)

RATING: ★★★☆☆ 

When young, good-looking Giuseppe disappears from his Sicilian rural homestead, it is assumed by the wary adults of the neighbourhood that he has been kidnapped by his father’s former bosses. That's just the way things are here. But his wildly imaginative and grittily determined girlfriend Luna is convinced that this is the kind of battle of love that parted lovers are made for, and she battles her mother (who appears as a kind of wicked witch) and the police authority’s sloth in her search for him, a search which increasingly pushes against the veils of reality (caverns under the nearby lake, shooting stars that leave messages in the sky), though it could all be in Luna's mind.

I was pre-primed to like writer/directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza's fairy-tale take on a grim real-life story of a Mafia kidnapping in Italy of a 13-year-old son of a Mafia hitman-turned-informant. But for all Sicilian Ghost Story's potential in the way it contrasts Luna's fantastical worlds with the grim reality (and I stress GRIM) of Giuseppe's imprisonment, and for all the fantastical and eerie beauty cinematographer Luca Bigazzi conjures out of the natural world (the extended underwater shot at the end will linger in the mind), I found the film too self-conscious in its approach, and the lead performance by actress Julia Jedlikowska frustratingly one-note, stuck switching between swooning at Giuseppe, and snapping at anyone in her way. Guillermo del Toro does Gomorrah sounded so promising on paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Owen Van Spall

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