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Filmmaking by the Book:
Italian Cinema and Literary Adaptation

. "Facing Windows"

This triangular love story with an entirely unique perspective revolves around Giovanna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) whose external attractions and internal difficulties are constantly reflected in her expressive, intelligent eyes. You'll like being with this fine actress as she labors to control her feelings with regard to exasperatingly unambitious hubby Filippo (Filippo Nigro), to hunky neighbor Lorenzo (Raoul Bova), and to the amnesiac elderly man (Massimo Girotti) Filippo insists on bringing home. It's a lot to contend with. Its elements of personal growth mixed with serious and complex issues make it more than a formulaic love story. Its surprising turns are part of the appeal.

When, during a stroll, Giovanna and Filippo come upon Davide (Girotti), an elderly man who is bewildered and aimless, he's capable only of repeating the name, "Simone." Sympathetic Filippo insists against Giovanna's impatience that they harbor him for the night and take him to the police station the next morning.

Disgusted as she is with Filippo's failure to do as promised, she becomes fascinated with the mystery and identity of the old man. On quite another side of her inquisitive nature, she is developing a different kind of fascination for the handsome young bachelor whose apartment window opposite hers allows for nighttime spying and a little clandestine panting. The need for passion in her life is evident while she staves off financial hardship with her pastry baking for a local restaurant-bar.

When Davide's memory slowly returns it becomes apparent that he's a gentle man with hidden secrets, but the revelation of the mystery is thwarted when he wanders away around the time she meets Lorenzo and allows the attraction to build. But Lorenzo is being transferred and if something physical is going to happen between them, decisions are imminent.

As far as love goes, hers for baking is given a surprise boost when she finally learns the identity and location of Davide. An equal surprise is the effect her fling with Lorenzo will have at home.

While there's no escaping the feeling that Hitchcock's "Rear Window" and the wide scope of holocaust drama had something to do with this story, the feeling of a paste-up job is also inescapable. And while the faults glare, the draw that satisfies is Mezzogiorno's performance, one that speaks of a deeply internal conviction in the woman she's portraying. That director Ferzan Ozpetek understands the intense power in the eyes of his actress is made evident by the last, lingering shot of her, an image that he knows will leave an impression.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


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Raoul Bova and Giovanna Mezzogiorno
A compulsion with boundaries

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