Sicilian Ghost Story review – stylish crime drama fantasy with a nasty undertow | Film

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You could alternatively call it Sicilian Love Story or Sicilian Bedtime Story or even Sicilian Shaggy-Dog Story. It’s an intriguing and good-looking film, an award winner in the critics’ week section at last year’s Cannes, inspired by a grisly true-crime horror of modern Sicily, a fact that is eventually revealed in a few lines flashed up on screen just before the closing credits. But it is a disconcerting revelation, as the preceding film’s recurrent mode of tragi-romantic fantasy, with a touch of Guillermo del Toro, isn’t adequate for the revulsion and outrage that this story must surely inspire.

It is well acted and well directed by Sicilian film-makers Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza, whose debut feature Salvo – about a hitman’s psychological breakdown – had comparable style.

In the early 90s, preteen Luna (Julia Jedlikowska) is shyly but intensely in love with rich kid Giuseppe (Gaetano Fernandez), who is the same age, a bit smug and entitled; but he feels the same about her. They have an adventure in a forest and then he invites her to his family compound to look at his horse, which he rides in the full kit: hat, breeches etc. Both of these scenes are wonderfully shot. But then Giuseppe disappears, an enigma compounded by his family’s tight-lipped refusal to reveal to Luna (or anyone) what’s happening. She is to discover it has something to do with his father’s involvement and then de-involvement with the mafia.

Grassadonia and Piazza show how this rational explanation, and Giuseppe’s own horrendous ordeal, exists alongside a parallel supernatural world: Giuseppe is a ghostly being in Luna’s mind as she doggedly investigates his disappearance in the face of the grownups’ contemptibly cowardly silence; in an ecstasy of pain, she accumulates a psychic knowledge of his spiritual whereabouts.

It’s a film whose initial charge of mystery and intensity dissipates over its running time, the narrative impetus slows, and there is that question of tone that is very much not solved by the revelation at the end. These drawbacks are offset by the directors’ terrific confidence and visual style.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Sicilian Ghost Story review – stylish crime drama fantasy with a nasty undertow | Film

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