Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Il Postino" (Language - Italian) (1994) - Movie Review

“The smell of barber shops makes me sob out loud” recites Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi) to Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noirret) the creator of the line, asking what is the reason behind it. The fictional Pablo Neruda in the “Il Postino: The Postman” replies “When you explain poetry, it becomes banal”. Indeed it does. This a simple and passionate film written and starred by Massimo Troisi is directed by Michael Radford. It is the best a film could have come close in explaining and transpiring the beauty of poems without obliterating it with melodrama.

A simpleton wishes to join his friends in the land of opportunity in America, Mario leads an indifferent life on the shores of the island in Italy. With a father having a luxury of sparing two words during his couple of hours break from fishing, he has no one to confide. His father asks him to get a job before thinking about making a journey outside of the island. His bicycle and his literacy earns him a temporary post man job to deliver to one address. The poet in exile, Pablo Neruda. He remembers him from the news reel, and also learned that the women are in love with his poems.

He begins to get acquainted as a small pause to stay there to get Pablo’s attention. He hopes to befriend the man and someday in future would aid him in winning women. But he is drawn by the words. Soon he begins to ask what metaphors are and how it can proliferate in his stale brain. Walk along the bay says Neruda. Nature can be the best poet’s aphrodisiac to the cascades of lines, punctuation and the waves of paragraphs.

The discussion between Pablo and Mario on the beaches of the gargantuan structures of cliff are memorable in the love for the art form by the writer and director. One who understands the form of this presentation in the words speaks to those appreciating members in the audience. It is not a conversation we do not want to sit in wondering what is the obsessing thing about this that two people talk in disguised pseudo intellectualism and appreciation. It is more about a wise poet being aware of his work and gift explaining that the water is there in this dried up ground of human mind, it takes a little digging and lot of patience.

Mario is struck by the Italian beauty Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), a young waitress in the town. She is hard and outspoken. He is shy dissolving in the shadows of the bar doors. He needs help and the man for that would be the man the women go gaga about. The friendship that begins in postal deliveries arrives to the place where Pablo becomes the cupid for his buddy’s love. The movie till then is a sweet story of this coiled and coy postal clerk finding something beautiful in the words and a friendship with a man helping him to see those. What happens once Pablo leaves forms the important part of the story and there is Mario in the sorrow of missing his friend and hoping to get a reciprocation. Not as to boast of knowing the man but an acknowledgment to the bond they had and shared.

Writer/Actor Massio died immediately as the film got over. He negated a known heart condition to finish this film. That is a passionate man restless and feared of his work not been on to the screen. For such a fierce obstinate person, he is sublime and softened in his Mario. After a long time he receives a letter from Chile and as eager he is to read the letter so are his family and boss. It is a letter from secretary asking him to mail the remaining items from the empty house of Neruda. And he is beaten by the insignificance he has been put to. He is unable to comprehend the enormity of the expectation he developed. He is fighting these two in that scene and brings those with a melancholy more than the poems read in the film.

“Il Postino” while an aspiring film is not striving for greatness and that is intentional. It is rightly put so. This as its main character relies on the simplicity and the freshness to the poetry it reads into. It uses the poems of Pablo Neruda as a tool for making it work than to impose. It is a film which does not expect much from its audience than to enjoy the poems along with Mario and Pablo.

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