Respiro (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/07/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins
Italian with English subtitles

Beautifully shot and impressively directed, this is an engaging, frequently moving drama with a terrific central performance by Golino.

Respiro is the second film by Italian writer-director Emmanuelle Crialese. Set among the remote island fishing community of Lampudesa, it stars Valeria Golino as Grazia, a free-spirited woman whose unconventional behaviour disturbs the islanders.

Too Happy Or Too Sad

Diagnosing her as “either too happy or too sad”, they decide she must be sent away to Milan for ‘treatment’, whereupon she disappears with the aid of her young son (Francesco Casisa).

The film is beautifully shot by cinematographer Fabio Zamarian, and the sun-drenched, rocky landscapes seem to exist in their own time. The almost documentary-like portrait of the island community also echoes classic Italian films such as Rossellini’s Stromboli.

Respiro is shot through with great moments and scenes. A particularly impressive (and shocking) highlight occurs when Grazia opens the gates of a holding enclosure for dozens of the village’s stray dogs - her elation at their freedom is immediately curtailed by the men of the village taking to their roof-tops with rifles and shooting them all down.

Valeria Golino (recently seen as Frida’s sister in Frida but all too often relegated to decorative girlfriend roles in the likes of Hot Shots or Rain Man) is terrific as Grazia, radiating beauty and energy and delivering a wonderfully moving performance. To its credit, the film refuses to comment on whether she is, actually, mentally ill, or just stifled by the conventions of ‘small-town’ Lampudesa and longing to break free.

In short, Respiro is a moving, impressively directed film with sumptuous visuals and a stunning central performance. Highly recommended.

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Respiro (12A)
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Content updated: 18/12/2017 14:47

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