Confined to 24 hours in the lives of residents of an Italian apartment building, MILLE BOLLE BLU is a solid and satisfying debut effort from Italian filmmaker Leone Pompucci.
On a summer day in 1961, the residents of an apartment block carry on their lives while anticipating the total eclipse of the sun that will occur the next day. Children play games in the courtyard and on the rooftop, spying on their elders as they do. While her family prepares for her wedding to
the son of a prominent engineer, Elvira Coliciotti (Stefania Montorsi) is unable to forget her true love, Antonio (Stefano Dionisi). Meanwhile, members of the Rossi family gather at the apartment of their just-deceased father, eager to claim their inheritances. The only one who mourns the dead man
is his housekeeper, Sara (Gina Rovere), whose Down's syndrome son was always treated with kindness by Mr. Rossi.
Caligiuri (Clelia Rondinella), an inept criminal, breaks out of prison to pay a conjugal visit to his wife, while in another apartment, blind trumpeter Guido (Claudio Bigagli) anxiously awaits the moment when he can remove his bandages to find out whether a sight-restoring operation has succeeded.
Guido's mother (Evelina Gori) dreads equally two possible outcomes of the operation: that it has failed, or that it has succeeded, and her only child will choose to leave her.
The next day, Sara reveals to Rossi's children that they will receive no inheritance: Rossi, the father of her son, secretly married her a year ago. As the eclipse begins, everyone in the building rushes out to see it. In the courtyard, Elvira meets Antonio. He tells her what she already
knows--that life with her husband will never be as good as what they had together. When he asks her to come away with him, she tells him that she can't because she is pregnant. Hearing the sound of applause at the end of the eclipse, Guido removes his bandages and is able to see. A narrator tells
us what has happened to all these people in the years since this day.
The extraordinary thing about MILLE BOLLE BLU (the title refers to a popular song to which Caligiuri and his wife dance comically) isn't that Pompucci packs so much life into it--it's that he does so with such economy. In a mere 83 minutes, the film has no trouble painting an indelible portrait of
the lives of several dozen people. It could probably have lasted longer, but it doesn't need to.
A key element in the film's success is the cinematography of Massimo Pau, who uses large but graceful movements to link different areas of the apartment building and its environs. It's similar to what Richard Linklater does in SLACKER, giving the viewer a dream-like feeling of eavesdropping on a
varied group of people. While all of the performances are strong, few (by design) stand out from the ensemble, though special mention should be made of Clelia Rondinella's comic work as the preposterously but sincerely lovestruck husband Caligiuri and Claudio Bigagli as blind Guido, who has a
beautiful moment when he removes his bandages and we can't quite tell if he can see or not. MILLE BOLLE BLU is a small but perfectly wonderful film in the best tradition of Italian cinema. (Profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: Confined to 24 hours in the lives of residents of an Italian apartment building, MILLE BOLLE BLU is a solid and satisfying debut effort from Italian filmmaker Leone Pompucci. On a summer day in 1961, the residents of an apartment block carry on their live… (more)