Though beautifully shot on the sun-bleached Italian island of Lampedusa, Emanuele Crialese's second feature is a rather dark tale of a vivacious but disturbed young mother and her battle with mental illness and the community that would like to see her committed to an institution. On her good days, Grazia (Valeria Golino) is what could be called free spirit: She goes skinny dipping in full view of the passing fishing boats; she brings bags of food to the wild dogs who are kept penned up in an abandoned bunker outside of town; and she flirts with men who work alongside her husband Pietro (Vincenzo Amato) on the fishing boats that circle the island each day. On her bad days, Grazia trashes the kitchen and lies in bed with the covers over her head, leaving her two young sons, Pasquale (Francesco Casisa) and his brother Filippo (Filippo Pucillo), and her teenage daughter Marinella (Veronica D'Agostino), to fend for themselves. Grazia is obviously manic-depressive, and as her behavior grows more erratic at home and at the fishery where she works, tongues begin to wag and Pietro considers sending her away to an institution in Milan. When in a fit of pique, Grazia releases all the wild dogs from the bunker — a rash act that carries dreadful consequences — Pietro begins to make the necessary arrangements. Terrified by the prospect of losing his mother, Pasquale schemes to hide Grazia in the caves high above the sea. Like Pasquale, who mistakes his mother's condition for something far more benign, this slow-moving and curiously unsatisfying film tends to view her bipolar disorder as a colorful character quirk. While Grazia's story is too reminiscent of such films as BLUE SKY (1994), which also draws an all too easy connection between mental illness and the oppression of high-spirited housewives, the evocation of provincial life in a tiny village that's wholly dependent on the sea is splendid, and recalls a number of classic Italian films. The sight of Pasquale and his roughneck friends horsing around on the beach and the depiction of life on the docks seem heavily influenced by Visconti's 1947 masterpiece LA TERRA TREMA, while the brilliantly colored scenes of the fishing boats returning to shore after a long day spent pulling fish from the sapphire sea could have come straight from Pontecorvo's WIDE BLUE ROAD (1957).
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Though beautifully shot on the sun-bleached Italian island of Lampedusa, Emanuele Crialese's second feature is a rather dark tale of a vivacious but disturbed young mother and her battle with mental illness and the community that would like to see her comm… (more)