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Malena (2000)

19 December 2009 by Baldy One Comment


2000, Dir. Giuseppe Tornatore
109 min. Rated R.
Starring: Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro.

Review by Baldy

I’ve been a fan of Monica Bellucci for years and I’ve been slowly re-learning Italian. When Netflix suggested that I might enjoy this one, I thought “Shoot, even if it stank, I would get to look at Monica Bellucci.” It looked like a rather steamy, charming, coming-of-age type of film.

It’s not. It’s endearing and terrible and made me very happy that the Allies bombed the shit out of Italy.

Here’s the gist of it. It is nearing the end of World War II and the beautiful Malena finds out that her husband has been killed in action. Malena already had a difficult life, having been living alone while every woman in the village envies and reviles her in secret, while every man in town wants to sleep with her (not nearly as secretly).

Unwanted attentionAs much as being about Malena, the film is about young Renato Amoroso. He is not yet thirteen. One day, his friends introduce him to their favorite pasttime: waiting to see Malena leave her house and then attempting to follow her everywhere she goes. Renato immediately becomes infatuated and begins to fantasize about comforting the beautiful widow and taking her for his own.

The people of the Sicilian town, though, SUCKED. The men of the town did not quietly fantasize about being a man to such a woman, but instead laughed with their friends openly and loudly about exactly what they wanted to do with this woman. The women of the town hate her because she is more beautiful than they will ever be. Even before the news of the death of Malena’s husband, the women all tell each other that she’s a whore. Again, they do not whisper when they say this.

As Renato follows Malena, he is the only one who sees what happens to her. When Malena’s husband is killed, her pension stops. The women of the town have ensured that she will not find work there. The men, assuming that she is a loose woman, offer nothing but vulgar comments, lustful propositions, and suggestions that they can come to an “arrangement.” By their own actions, they force her into becoming what they had believed all along.

This movie is extremely tragic. We never know exactly how bad Malena is on the inside. Much like the people of the town, we are not allowed to see what kind of a person she is. Instead, we only see how she is ground down, degraged, and made into something like an abused and frightened animal. While the film is ostensibly about Malena, it shows us two other things. We see all of the baser motivations through the actions of the people in town: envy, lust, anger, greed. We are shown (or reminded) how people with a little power revel is using it to inflict pain on those who are vulnerable. We also see a boy becoming a man, a young man who has seen all that has happened and decides how women should be treated when he is old enough to have one of his own.

It has plenty of funny moments, and the scenery is great, and it was well directed, and the casting was fantastic, BUT. I think that this was honestly one of the saddest movies I have ever seen. Though it was well done, I came out of the movie feeling not entertained but thoroughly empty. If you’re a fan of truly tragic films, this one is a must-see.

One Comment »

  • Clark said:

    that was one horny motherfuker

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