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Il Sapore Del Grano
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Italy released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: Italian ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), English ( Subtitles ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast/Crew Interview(s), Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Lorenzo, a handsome first-year professor in an isolated italian village, falls under the spell of his most beguiling pupil, a dark-haired, starry-eyes 12 year old named Duilio. As Lorenzo's relationship with his heartless girlfriend deteriorates, he finds himself walking the fields with his loving student. When their idyllic frienship is questioned by Duilio's suspicious stepmother, Lorenzo is brought to a crisis of conscience. ...The Taste of Wheat ( Il sapore del grano ) ( The Flavor of Corn )
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The story concerns the platonic friendship between a newly qualified schoolmaster - beautifully played by Lorenzo Lena - and his young student Duilio. The schoolmaster has a number of sexual encounters with beautiful women, including Duilio's sister, but a deeper closeness develops with Duilio which initially worries the boy's stepmother whereas the boy's Father sees it for what it is.
I'll not spoil the story any further as I believe this is a film that needs to be seen to be appreciated. Beautifully directed by Gianni da Campo, the film has a very 'old fashioned' visual quality about it which I personally like.
Potential buyers may want to compare this to the Award International version, which is the one I have. It is presumably copied from that company's VHS release, as the print is not very clear; I don't know if this one is the same. The Award version has a better cover; in any case the film is well worth seeing even if the image quality is less than brilliant, and it is good to see that it is available in two countries even, with English subtitles. It has also been released in Germany under the title Die Qual der Liebe; again, I don't know about the print, but it has no English.
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this film. Released years ago on a VHS tape under the title "The Flavor of Corn"
it was only available on out of print used VHS tapes selling at inflated prices. This
film touches on a subject controversial to many. The idea of an underage boy
increasingly attracted to his young 20-something male teacher. Don't worry friends,
there is nothing offensive on screen. I don't think that the idea of the younger person
being the pursuer could be called pedophilia, unless it is supposed to be that if the
persued responds in kind. No spoilers here, except to say that I think this is well-handled
here. See it for yourself, please.
One more comment: Why is this DVD called "The Taste of Wheat" when the film
itself still bears the title "The Flavor of Corn" ?
Remarkably tasteful, the main characters (along with those of the family) are rather well developed. Keep in mind, the film is in Italian, so my entire viewing is based on reading subtitles. Most of the story takes place at either Duilio's family home and farm, or at Lorenzo's apartment. I have little experience with Italian films, so I cannot pass judgement on the acting or directing, but the film held my attention from start to finish.
The initial relationship appears to be a common one where a compassionate teacher reaches out to a quiet student seeking attention. I imagine this scenario occurs often between educators and students. The difference here is the story is based in a small Italian village, and the relationship is quite personal. By today's standards in America, there's not a chance this "friendship" would be acceptable. Lorenzo visits the family home often, dining with the family and developing a close bond with Duilio. When not with the family, Lorenzo has a sexual affair with a woman apparently engaged to be married. It appears Lorenzo wants a partner in life, and the woman has no interest. My observation is Lorenzo starts making a comparison between this woman unable to commit / show affection towards Lorenzo and Duilio, who desires to see Lorenzo daily, even making him gifts. This is by far a complicated twist on the story. One might simply see a compassionate caring teacher offering guidance and support to a youth. Others will see a darker meaning.
As the story progresses, Duilio (for lack of better terms) makes a move on Lorenzo. At this point, most would agree it was Lorenzo's responsibility to resist. The scene is brief, clean, and free of anything "sexual". But it no doubt creates the controversy for which the film is based. At no point do we delve into sexuality of the characters, but the viewer is left to make their own assumptions.
The ending is bitter-sweet. Lorenzo agonizes his confusion, and his passion for what Duilio represents, or is it more? Lorenzo makes a decision in the best interest of his potential career as a teacher, and quite possibly to protect Duilio. In doing so, is either person better off? You'll be left wondering exactly what thoughts are ravaging through the minds of Duilio and Lorenzo as the film comes to an end.
As I started watching, I was reminded of another controversial film (from 2000) on the same topic, only much more explicit, Eban and Charley. In both films, it is the younger person pursuing the older one. In the end, they are both about the sometimes painful experience of coming of age or coming to terms with identifying sexuality. For these reasons alone, it's why we as a nation must learn to accept and support young people regardless of sexuality.
I have the VHS and had a DVD that I found at a flea market. Unfortunately DVD got stolen. Looking to buy another one.
Yes, this film is that good and certainly worthy of any cinephile's collection.