• At any time of the day, a good movie with popcorn or beer is a welcome pleasure.

    Malena (2000): Movie Review

    Beauty can be both a blessing and a curse. With GiuseppeTornatore’s 2000 masterpiece Malena, an irresistible beauty becomes the bearer’s demise while it is the beholder’s inspiration as he travels the road from boyhood to manhood in war-torn Italy. 

    Based on a story by Luciano Vincenzoni, Malena is about a woman who has the misfortune of being born with a captivating face and curvaceous body. Played by Monica Bellucci, Malena goes to Sicily in 1940, during which Italy has just entered the Second World War. She lives with her elderly almost-deaf father while waiting for her husband to return from the War. Despite being reserved and shy, Malena attracts all the attention from the local men, including 12-year-old Renato. 

    Maybe, he suffers the greatest attraction of all men and Renato, played by Giuseppe Sulfaro, becomes too obsessed with Malena that he fantasizes her in bed and even steals her underwear. Gossips begin to circle around Malena, including one that totally devastates her – the death of her husband. Rumors become more demeaning, backed by lustful men who lurk around her. Moved by her grief and loneliness, Renato vows to protect her from everyone and becomes married to the idea. So as he blossoms from a boy to a man, Renato silently watches Malena from a distant, a woman whose body and spirit is ravaged by war but then manages to pick up the broken pieces of herself and redeem the true woman that she is.

    Malena is a perfect blend of comedy and nostalgia. Though the movie deals with a boy’s carnal desires of a woman he has never spoken to (only once at the end of the film), it portrays the subject matter in respectful and non-voyeuristic way. Yes, we enter the wild fantasies of a boy but they come across as funny and engaging. Amazing how creative the imaginations of a boy are!

    Much of the first half of the movie has that comic tone, but afterwards, when the aftermaths of War reaches Italy, it becomes more serious as the characters deal with nostalgia, losses and bittersweet regrets. This time, the boy has become a man, and the woman a widow. She leaves Sicily and then comes back years later with the husband she thought she had lost. All this time, Renato explores the power and privileges of his manhood, yet still remaining true to the love he had sworn for Malena. It is sad as he chose an unspoken and unrequited love. Before the film’s end credits, an adult Renato’s voice-over says (based on English subtitles): “Time has passed and I have loved many women. And as they’ve held me close and asked if I will remember them, I believed in my heart that I would. But the only one I’ve never forgotten is the one who never asked…. Malena.”

    Despite having simple story and negative reviews by many, I have so much bias for Malena so I am still giving it five out of five-star rating. One reason, every boy can relate to the film and it gave me the sad-happy longing of my own bygone childhood days. Secondly, I take much interest on movies about the Second World War and though that happened likes ages ago, the horrors and grief are real and which the movie successfully justified. Thirdly, who does not enjoy a romantic movie? Love is as old as men, and knowing no time and age, it is a feeling that touches all kinds of people. Lastly, Malena has great technical details, from the awe-inspiring cinematography, musical score, dialogues to the performances of the cast. Truly, Malena, though may not be one of my most favorite movies, is unforgettable and will always find a special place in my heart.


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