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Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro, Luciano Federico
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore

Monica Bellucci’s natural beauty is once gain the subject of this Italian movie from director Giuseppe Tornatore but this time it’s seen through the eyes of a young boy Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro), as he grows up during the years of the Second World War.

Malena (Monica Bellucci) and her husband move to a small Italian town but her husband leaves shortly afterwards to go to war and his beautiful young wife is left alone to fend for herself amongst the lecherous men and jealous women whose lives revolve around the close knit community in the town. Malena is the subject of every males’ fascination as they joke about what it would be like to sleep with her. The town’s women despise her, worried that their own men might be more interested in Malena than they are their own wives and whisper cruel comments behind her back to reassure themselves. Things get worse for when Malena when her husband is reported killed, as some of the men begin to act on their impulses and the women will only sell her their worst selection of food from their stalls out of envy and spite.

When the German army moves into the village Malena can only survive by finally using her beauty to attract senior officers so she can use them as a way to live, something which will later backfire on her when the Allied force drive the Germans out.

Malena though is not the only central character in the film as all of the events, and even Malena’s life is seen through the eyes of Renato, a young boy who first encounters Malena while he is in the early stages of puberty. As he grows up he fantasises about her and this creates many humorous moments. He also watches her at every opportunity, even spying through her windows and following her around the town. He also tries to defend her honour and prays for her protection until he is old enough to look after her.

This Italian language film comes with English subtitles, but it’s a very visual film so it doesn’t require tremendous concentration to follow the dialogue.

The movie is about Malena’s life in the town but it’s more about the effect her existence and her beauty had on a young boy who fell in lover with her from a distance and saw far more through his innocence than anyone else whose perspective were either clouded by lust or jealously.

4 out of 6 stars