Lost Love


Reviewed by: Claire Sawers

Nine-year-old Ettore Corvaja looks out the window of an apartment, overlooking a pedestrian walkway. An older man asks him what he sees.

"The woman with a bag?"

No. Wrong answer.

"The palm tree?"

He indicates the branches, partially obscuring the view.

"No," replies his mentor, mysteriously. "You should see the glass."

Apparently this is an idea totally key to director Franco Battiato. It's not what you see that matters, but through which lens. It's about style, not substance.

A loose plot, slow paced and lacking intrigue is used to draw attention to "the glass". Artistic, poetic and at times a little too self-consciously navel-gazing, Battiato's film is certainly a beautiful, thoughtful piece of cinema. It's also fairly dull.

Ettore (Luca Vitrano) is an angelic dark-haired Sicilian schoolboy, growing up in the Fifties. Right down to his v-neck pullover, knee-high socks and shorts, he's the picture of good health and good things. His childhood is exaggeratedly idyllic. Scenes of Sunday Mass, attended by the entire village, friendly priests, communal sewing sessions by the good women of the village, meal preparation with lots of laughter - it's basically an advert for pasta sauce.

It becomes apparent that every effort has been made cinematographically to portray a rose-tinted memory through Ettore's eyes. Summer evening lighting, tumbling Italian countryside, a nostalgia-packed soundtrack of Fifties hits and soaring classical arias give a warm fuzzy feeling.

The action then fast-forwards to Ettore as a young man, discovering the cultural side of Milan after leaving provincial Sicily. He toys with the idea of becoming a musician and dips his toe into various art forms, but deep down knows his true calling is writing.

The film explores his personal journey for self-expression and artistic fulfilment. It gets a bit serious, but the scenes are shot with undeniable artistic taste and attention to detail.

Aesthetically, thumbs up. But when the trimmings are stripped away - gorgeous soundtrack, eye-candy actors, and beautiful photography - the story leaves you hungry.

Reviewed on: 19 Apr 2004
Share this with others on...
The life of a Sicilian boy, from an idyllic childhood, through his early adult years in Milan where he discovers the world of music and writing.

Director: Franco Battiato

Writer: Franco Battiato, Manlio Sgalambro

Starring: Corrado Fortuna, Donatella Finocchiaro, Gabriele Ferzetti, Anna Maria Gherardi, Lucia Sardo, Luca Vitrano

Year: 2003

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Italy


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Cinema Paradiso