Screened as part of NZIFF 2003
On a sunburnt, sea-girt Mediterranean island the bonds of family and community are tested by a young woman’s wild behaviour. As outrage mounts, only the insight and fierce loyalty of her 13-year-old son may avert disaster. The year’s most acclaimed and beautiful Italian film immerses us in a drama of individual madness and communal sanity that has mythic resonance.
“Respiro, Emanuele Crialese’s pungent portrait of a fishing community on the island of Lampedusa (off the western coast of Sicily), bursts with such pulsing vitality and sensual appreciation of nature that you can almost taste the salty air and feel the sun beating down on your shoulders… It is also a place where everybody knows everybody else’s business. But that lack of privacy is one of the inevitable costs of living in a place whose livelihood depends on community solidarity. Another price is a low tolerance for difference and nonconformity. The movie’s central character, Grazia (Valeria Golino), is a fisherman’s beautiful young wife and a mother of three whose wild mood swings and erratic behavior begin to rankle the town and to precipitate domestic havoc… As Grazia’s emotional state grows more precarious, her family and neighbors decide she has become unmanageable… Beginning with Ms Golino, whose Grazia radiates a free-spirited vitality that recalls the young Sophia Loren, the movie has wonderfully naturalistic performances. Not since Y tu mamá también has a movie so palpably captured the down-to-earth, flesh-and-blood reality of high-spirited people living their lives without self-consciousness.” — Stephen Holden, NY Times