Projections - Movie Reviews

Malena Malena

It is 1940 in the village of Castelcuto on the Sicilian shore.  Twelve and a half year old Renato Amoroso (Giuseppe Sulfaro) is beginning to face puberty as the fascist government draws Malena's husband into the battles of World War II.

Every male in the village, including the local priest, watch the stately beauty as she walks from her home along the shore to the village.  Renato and his five friends, who live in a bicycle world, peddle around town to get better and better vantage points along her route, but none have the fantasies that live in his mind.  He sees himself as a gladiator and Tarzan protecting the beautiful Malena, played by Monica Bellucci.

While every male drools over her, the women in town have black balled her and the gossip around the town is that she is entertaining various men.  When Malena's husband is reported dead many in the adult male population offer her financial assistance for sexual favors.

Renato uses a secret door and peep holes to watch the stunning young woman carry out various ordinary activities as well as sensual ones with a young Lieutenant who comes to town.  While Renato gets long pants and has his hair cut in the big chair, he plots to steal her underwear only to be caught by his irate father.

The crush lasts more than two years and during that time, Malena sells her hair and uses her body to survive in the town where no one will give her honest work.  Even though we are expected to believe she has little money she always appears in beguiling stylish outfits.  Eventually females extract vengeance on the town beauty as American soldiers liberate the village.

Director Giuseppe Tornatore presents an absorbing and amusing world around the budding sexuality of Renato and he brings the young man to reality when Malena looks into his eyes and never sees who he is.  Renato learns love is not always returned between a thirty year old woman and a fifteen year old kid; he also never forgets her.

While we enjoy the imagination of young Renato and appreciate the beauty of Malena, director Tornatore brings us to a dark corner where the adolescent infatuation is replaced by an unexpected and appalling, violent act and the poetry of love's first crush is tarnished and the director's motivation is questionable.

Malena is presented in Italian with English sub titles.


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