Set in a Sicilian village during WW2, "Malena" is a thoroughly enjoyable movie which showcases the many talents and charms of Monica Bellucci, who plays the glamourous wife of an Italian soldier. Lusted after by men and envied by women, Malena has to adjust to life on her own after her husband is called to fight in North Africa. Her solitary status becomes the subject of rampant speculation in the village and her haughty, reserved demeanour helps to turn her into a hate figure for malicious gossips who try to "bring her down". A pubescent boy , Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro) ,falls under her spell and he starts to follow and spy on her ,observing mournfully her fall from grace . The main themes of "Malena" are those of envy, injustice and redemption. The acting and cinematography are superb and there is a rich vein of humour running through the film, mostly provided by Renato's relationship with his right hand and with his temperamental father after an attempted exorcism. However there are some harrowing scenes as well which are brilliantly performed by Bellucci. Like an Italian "Ryan's Daughter" with echoes of "Wish You Were Here", "Malena" is an engaging and entertaining contribution to world cinema.
on 1 February 2011
In a world where we are served up a daily dose of quite graphic violence in our movies and entertainment, it is always so disappointing to see the American and Uk censors at it again. This what was a simmeringly hot portrayal of boyhood lust, obsession and discovery has had a massive 20 minutes slashed from it which is totally unacceptable.
Belluci is the sexual nucleus around which this movie revolves, all are drawn to her both man and boy, creating tensions and jealousy within the community.
To cut this film so harshly just tears it's heart out, leaving us with a fairly weak diluted version which is simply an insult to the art and vision of the director.
I have seen the full uncut version and would recommend anyone do the same, leaving this half a film to the censors that killed it.
on 15 February 2008
Anyone who's seen 'Citizen Kane' remembers the wonderful speech given by an elderly man reflecting on the memory from his youth of seeing a woman in a white dress; though she never saw him, and they never spoke, he remembered her for the rest of his life. Essentially, 'Malena' is that story writ large.
This may well turn out to be Monica Bellucci's signature role. Not only did this film launch her as a leading lady to international audiences, but it also confronts head-on the manner in which she, and countless other beauties of stage and screen, have been and continue to be treated by the world: lusted after, resented, and finally broken down. Some have condemned 'Malena' as voyeuristic, objectifying the leading lady; but this film is really a comment on objectification and voyeurism, a poignant tale about how a woman's looks result in her being ostracised by her community. As it is all told from the perspective of a twelve-year old boy, understandably infatuated, it's also a touching coming of age story; and it's all played out against the backdrop of fascist-ruled Sicily in the late days of the Second World War. That's a lot to squeeze into eighty-odd minutes.
Like any truly great film, 'Malena' takes the viewer through a myriad of emotions. It's hilariously funny, showing us the awkwardness of puberty and the protagonist's generally absurd fantasies involving the object of his lust. It's very sexy, the camera truly loving every inch of the impossibly gorgeous Ms Bellucci. It's tense and disturbing, the shadow of war constantly threatening to break the tranquility of the picturesque town. And it's harrowing to see how the town's gossip about Malena escalates into suspicion, contempt, and ultimately persecution.
All in all, 'Malena' is simply beautiful. Perhaps it falls back a little too often on chocolate box visuals of the idyllic, sunkissed Sicillian coast, but then this is a tale told by a man looking back on his youth, a period of our lives that - in spite of whatever hardships are endured - we all tend to look back on through rose-tinted glasses. It captures wonderfully the bittersweet longing of adolescent infatuation, in a refreshingly frank and honest manner. Indeed, too frank and honest for some it seems, as reputedly this version (as previously mentioned, less than an hour and a half long) has been cut by over fifteen minutes, excising material which was deemed to have pushed the boundaries of voyeurism and sexual fantasy a little too far; to the best of my knowledge there is no uncut version yet available in the UK or US, annoyingly. For this reason alone I have held off purchasing this DVD, in the hope that the uncut version may eventually be released. But even at a shorter running time, 'Malena' is a must-see film to be cherished. Anyone who has ever loved someone who didn't even know they existed will have something to relate to.
on 11 January 2003
This wonderful film from Italy by "Cinema Paradiso" writer and director Gieseppe Tornatore is in turns, hilarious, heartbreaking, and ultimately, triumphant. What starts out as a coming of age obsession turns into a meditation on human cruelty, and poses many of the same questions as last years film "The Majestic". Is it what people expect of us that makes us what we are? If we change to be this, where do we belong then, and can we be accepted again in the life we choose to live? Make no mistake, this is the darker side to those questions, and the darker answers.
Giueseppe Sulfaro is terrific as Renato, a young boy in an Italian town during WWII who has just gotten a new bicycle. His biggest goal in life is to get a pair of long pants so he can dress like a man. But once he sees the lovely Malena, his life changes forever. His adolescent fantasies about the most beautiful girl in the town are hysterical. He puts himself into the American films he has seen in these moments. From "Me Tarzan, You Malena" to his stagecoach western fantasy (obviously he's John Wayne) "My, you have the biggest guns in the west, Renato!" we can't stop laughing. His raging hormones are treated in a funny and yet tasteful manner.
His adolescent longing for her turns to something more as this film slowly shows Renato how this small Italian town feels about the lovely Malena. Men gawk and want to have her for themselves and the women hate her because of her dark beauty and make up gossip to cheapen her. But Renato has been spying on her through a peephole and knows the truth. She is pure. She dances alone in her house with her husband's picture, faithful and waiting for his return from war.
Renato loves the beautiful Malena and defends her virtue by playing nasty tricks on the ones who talk about her. When she apparently becomes a widow her life becomes much harder and the gossip more vicious as the entire town pushes her towards the loose woman they want her to be, the men so they can sleep with her, and the women so they can feel superior. Once a "payment" is forced upon her by the town attorney her path is sealed and the young Renato watches the girl he worships from afar become a prostitute, knowing she is still pure, and has no choices.
Monica Bellucci is magnificent as Malena. She is ravishingly beautiful and quietly displays emotions underneath we can not see, an elegant dignity carried all through the film, even as she is dragged into the streets and beaten by the women after American liberation from the Germans. It is a raw emotional scene rarely if ever seen in American cinema...
Don't let this truly wonderful film pass by just because you don't like subtitles. Monica Bellucci is the finest thing to hit Italian cinema since Sophia Loren. She is talented and breathtakingly beautiful. Renato knows he will never forget Malena. Neither will you...
on 9 March 2015
Now to be very honest about Malena its not a movie for everyone. Either you like it or not. I can speak Italian so I do not need to even read the subtitles. This movie shows the reality of the Italy during the World War 2. In some places it is very similar to that even today which is good. It shows the reality how things really are, daily life,no polish.the director did a great job to capture the period of when the movie was set in.Now MELINA, everybody loves her. She is a beaty among beauties. All the women being jelous and making plans for her downfall. We know that men including me find Melina irresistible. We would not be men if we weren't but to be fair to her the attention was non stop and I wont that attention on my sisters, girlfriend or any women in my family. She was treated as an object when in fact she was a lady in her heart. Monica Belluci played her role beutifully. The perfect actress for the role. Some people give this movie a bad review but I think is very unfair. It should be more than an average rated movie. You have to know that life style to really get involved in the movie. The blu ray quality is really good. I wanted the movie to be in full screen but we cant have everything. If you have a passion for Italian cinema just get it. If not give it a chance. To conclude this review this is the cut version of the movie. You only get around 92 min and there are uncut versions which give you 20 minutes extra. Again Brittain gets this movie cut to the bone and doesn't let us enjoy a full movie as it was ment to be. So you decide either get the cut version which is cheaper or get the uncut version but will cost you more. I got the cut version as all I wanted is to check the conversion to blu ray before buying the uncut version of blu ray.Also the English subltitle is burned into the image and cannot be removed. Great seller. Fast delivery. Thank You
on 29 September 2005
I watched this film few days ago but I still retain the emotions it provoked in me. Both the colours and the music are enchanting but what is most intriguing is perceiving the story from this boy's point of view. Renato is a young boy and still innocent and suffers greatly for the evil that envy and jealousy can cause.
A poetic film, don't be mistaken by the fact an ex model stars in it (Monica Bellucci)the film is deeper than what you may think.
on 6 February 2011
This is a wonderful story about a young boy's infatuation for a young woman. The story is based in a Sicilian Village during the 2nd World War. But it is far more than a coming of age story. The film is a beautiful story of life in a small town, the hypocrisy and the prejudices as well as the cruelty and unfairness of life - but all this is done with lovely touches of humour.
I was expecting great things from the director of Cinema Paradiso and I was not disappointed, notwithstanding that it is not quite in the same league as Paradiso. It is deliberately a lighter film, partly because of the comic moments but also because it has a happier ending. However, as the story unfolds there is a darker side to the film and this may come as a shock to some. Superb cinematography and there is also a lovely music score by Ennio Morriconi. This film is a little gem.
on 12 August 2010
comedy mixed with sublime sensuality and eroticism , nostalgia and drama,longings,envy and desires combined with the brutality of life in Italy during the WWII.
I enjoyed this film enormously.It stirred my emotions even those deeply hidden in me. Watching it I cried, laughed,and experienced
variety of a different feelings.I gone back in time to my childhood trying to recall those feelings when one is growing up ,with all its ups and downs.
Truly beautiful and touching movie with an amazing soundtrack.
This version doesnt have English subtitles.
on 25 April 2013
I love this movie. The storyline, music and portraits are wonderful, but why should it still be edited from its original length and deeper tones is a mystery to me. Since the original length movie is not available, this is what we have to enjoy. Like Cinema Paradiso, you don't know what you are missing with the edited down for US short attention span consumption until you have been fortunate enough to have seen its original intentions. This release is still worth the price of admission, although I feel cheated.
on 14 August 2009
I liked this film, but it is slight. It is not as good as Summer of '42, which covers a rite of passage in similar circumstances. Bellucci is very alluring, but does not get enough to do and could have done with more lines. She does not speak until two-thirds through the film. There are some very funny bits - especially where our hero gets caught having fallen asleep with Malena's knickers on his face. I would also argue that Bellucci's casting is wrong. Malena is in her late twenties and Bellucci was in her mid-thirties at the time and it shows. She looks much more lived in; in Summer... Jennifer O'Neill was in her early twenties and had a peaches and cream innocence that was integral to the film's success. Finally, the 88 minute UK version is cut as the censor wants to save us from all that filth again. This is funny don't you think? The bits cut relate to our hero's fantasies about Malena, which are a key part of what the film is about. A rites of passage film with some of the rites - fantasising about an unattainable woman - cut out. Brilliant! LIke ER with no blood in the operations. The American version is cut too; the real film is 109 minutes long.