Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Il Postino; Drama, Italy, 1994; D: Michael Radford, S: Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret, Maria Grazia Cucinotta
A small Italian island. Mario is hassled by his father so he finds a job as a postman. He uses that position to visit Pablo Neruda, the exiled poet and communist, when he brings him post. Slowly, they become friends. Mario falls in love with a waitress, Beatrice, so Pablo gives him advice in how to charm her with poetry. The two get married and Pablo returns back to his homeland. Years later, he returns to visit Beatrice again. She has a son, Pablino. Mario, however, died during a communist protest.
Nominated for 5 Oscars (including Best Picture, best director and best actor Massimo Troisi, who allegedly died just one day after filming was completed) and winner of 2 BAFTA awards (best foreign film, music), "The Postman" is a gentle, calm and nostalgic dedication to simple life as well as poetry and art in general. British director Michael Radford copes well with the Italian mentality, allowing story to flow nicely, whereas the humorous touches, as sparse as they are, give it charm (like when poet Pablo Neruda asks protagonist Mario to list some beauties of his island, and he flat out says: "Beatrice Russo!", the woman he is in love with). Some critics complained that the original erotic touch of the novel was toned down for this edition, reducing it basically just to one scene (when Beatrice rolls a table-football ball from her cleavage up to her neck and in to her mouth to "tickle" Mario's imagination), yet the way it is, the tone works well regardless. However, "Il Postino" is still slightly overrated: it is schematic and unconvincing instead of being natural and enchanting. The made up Neruda subplot is neat, yet it was not completely exploited, or better said, it tickles more the imagination of the viewers than it tickled the imagination of the writers. As nice as Mario is, it is somehow hard to believe that he gets Beatrice's affection in such a fast way, with just comparing her smile with a butterfly.