Respiro

on May 23, 2003 by Ed Scheid
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Set on Lampedusa, an island near Sicily, “Respiro” is based on a legend about a woman who had trouble adjusting to life on the island. Director Emanuele Crialese, who also wrote the screenplay, establishes a realistic tone in showing the village routines where life centers on the sea. Husbands fish and wives work in the fish-packing plant. Rivalries between young boys can turn violent.

Grazia (Valeria Golino, “Rain Man,” the only professional in the cast) is mother of three. She becomes constricted by life on the island and continually tries to break out of the daily routines. Perhaps feeling an affinity, she brings food to the stray dogs who are confined away from the townspeople. The film skillfully changes audience perception of Grazia's behavior. What initially seems free-spirited becomes disturbing and potentially dangerous. Her husband Pietro (Vincenzo Amato) tries to protect her from the increasing scorn of the community. The film focuses on how Grazia's activities affect her two sons--unhappy Pasquale (Francesco Casisa) and spiritrd Filippo (Filippo Pucillo).

In a forceful performance, Golino gives Grazia a feverish intensity. The non-pros are also impressive, particularly the young boys playing Grazia's sons. Most of the cast lives on Lampedusa, where there is no movie theatre. Crialese and cinematographer Fabio Zamarion give the film a vivid sense of the island environment. The desolate rocky landscape contrasts sharply with the surrounding deep blue water. Scenes shot underwater are exceptional. The water offers a sense of freedom not found on the harsh island and eventually adds a touch of magic realism to Grazia's turbulent life. Starring Valeria Golino, Vincenzo Amato, Francesco Casisa, Veronica D'agostino and Filippo Pucillo. Directed and written by Emanuele Crialese. Produced by Domenico Procacci. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Sicilian-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 96 min

Tags: Valeria Golino, Vincenzo Amato, Francesco Casisa, Veronica D'agostino and Filippo Pucillo. Directed and written by Emanuele Crialese, Produced by Domenico Procacci, Sony, Drama
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