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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Respiro

Starring: Valeria Golino, Vincenzo Amato
Director: Emanuele Crialese
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: May 2003
Genres: Drama, Foreign, Italian

*Also starring: Filippo Pucillo, Veronica D'Agostino, Francesco Casisa, Muzzi Loffredo, Elio Germano

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

RESPIRO is a slightly quirky tale that is a small slice of fishing village life. Set on Lampedusa, a remote island off the coast of Sicily, the story concerns a free-spirited mother named Grazia (Valeria Golino). Grazia, to the consternation of her children, Pasquale (Francesco Casisa), Marinella (Veronica D'Agostino) and Filippo (Filippo Pucillo), lives her life just slightly out of the village norm. She sees nothing wrong with swimming topless on secluded beaches and asking strangers to take her sailing. She may or may not be slightly crazy.

The movie does a masterful job of creating a real sense of place. The boys wear shorts and rarely anything else, and the women wear thin, flowery dresses that blow in the wind. The sun-drenched terrain is filled with rocks and caves and surrounded by deep blue water. It's easy to transport yourself mentally to be there with them. Early on, Grazia plays a hauntingly beautiful song that has the effect of a mermaid calling to you, beckoning you to stay and join her.

The story itself is never as effective as its mood. A group of slightly older boys keep attacking Pasquale, Filippo and their friends, pulling off all of their clothes when they are caught. Grazia has a propensity for doing slightly out of the ordinary acts that irk some of the townsfolk. The movie's last act is the strangest of all, but it would be hard to describe it without giving away its small surprise. RESPIRO is a mood piece that never quite manages to rise above being just a mood piece.

RESPIRO runs 1:30. The film is in Italian with English subtitles. It is rated PG-13 for "nudity and thematic elements" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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